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The "Lady of Auxerre" (c. 630 BCE). Limestone statue about 75 cm in height. A collection of the Louvre Museum in France.

Brief Identification

The Lady of Auxerre is a small limestone statue standing only at about 75 centimeters in height. She has been thought to have been created in Crete circa 630 BCE, although the making of the staute has influences from many ancient civilizations. The purpose of the Lady of Auxerre is widely controversial. It has been debated that she simply represents a maiden or even a Greek goddess.

Technical EvaluationEdit

The Lady of Auxerre was originally discovered in 1907 in a storage vault of the Museum of Auxerre in Paris, France and now rests in the Louvre Museum. She is so captivating because she has baffled researchers for years. It is a mystery how she made her way to the vault of the museum in Auxerre. Therefore, because her findings were not excavated from an ancient culture, the explanation of her creation is unknown. No one has concrete facts regarding to just who or what Lady of Auxerre is, but many inferences and theories continue to be made.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The most common common claim of the classification of this statue is Daedalic style, which summarizes the new Greek techniques of stone sculpting in the 7th century. This style was named after Daedalus, who is said to be the one of the first creators of making statues in antiquity design. Researchers have assigned her to being from Crete on account of the type of limestone she is made of and the draping characteristic of her gown. However, there are many other cultural influences imbedded into the making of this tiny sculpture, which makes sense because Greek technique had spread eastward during the Orientalizing period. Her head is triangular shape, even though half of her face appears to have fallen off, and her body has elements of geometric technique. This along with the draping of her garments points to the influences of the Greek. Her hair and stance display a strong relation to Egyptian art. She is very rigid with the almond shaped eyes, exaggerated eyebrows, as well as a half smirking smile. The proportion of her torso to that of her lower body is not an accurate bodily depiction and yet another striking resemblance to Egyptian culture. The statue wears a belt and has a relatively narrow wasitline, which then represents Mycenaen artwork [See Donohue 1995, 26].

Unfortunately, the technical makings of the Lady of Auxerre are bleak to say the least. Since she was found in a storage vault in a small museum in Auxerre, there are not many hard facts as to what and how she was crafted. The only other remaining detail noticed is that she has patterned tracings on the front of her dress that may have been carved in for the sculpture to perhaps be painted later. Other than she was made of similiar limestone to other art forms from the region of Crete, any other information is very unclear.

Local Historical ContextEdit

The origin of the Lady of Auxerre is completely unknown. Due to her mysteriously being found in a vault of a small French museum, no one knows what culture she is from, if she was a gift, or if there is a religious aspect to her or not. There are a multitude of theories and due to archeological evidence, we can narrow down the potential time period to c.630 BCE and the type of limestone was similiarly linked to ruins of Crete. The placing of her right hand across her breast has caused many debates. Few people claim that because of her hand being placed where it is, perhaps she is a goddess because she pointing out her sexual female attributes like a multitude of other discovered figurines. Others still believe that she is just a typical Kore statue, which in Greek means "maiden." Some even think that she is maybe apart of some fertility worshipping group or just dedicated her eternity to prayer in honor of some gods. The draping of her attire may point to some potential status of power or wealth but the troubling part is that it is not all loose around the entire body. It becomes really tight and belted around her waist and then clings firmly to her side [See Robertson 1991, 10]. She is thought of to potentially be a Greek goddess, although she lacks the traditional headdress most goddesses wore.

Again, only inferences can be made about the true purpose of the Lady of Auxerre.

World-Historical SignificanceEdit

The Lady of Auxerre in her entirety is just a massive mystery. She has left many perplexed as to what her purpose truly was for and where she is from. The informatinon on this beautiful piece of work is incredibly bleak.The thing that is unique about her is her melting pot of features. She has the geometric shapes with the triangular head and flat face, which is similiar to the style of the Geometric Period, but then again is more realistic and in a more feminine depiction than what most Greeks in this time period would craft [See Kleiner 2006, 91]. She shares similiar limestone to art from Cretan ruins and her style is thought to be predominately Greek, however her hair and facial features could be that of Eqyptian culture. There are too many theories to take in account about this incredible statue because that is all anyone can really grasp and debate on since there is zero information on her. After understanding the many fuzed artistic techniques and potential religious aspects, perhaps the beauty of the Lady of Auxerre is simply the unknown. Any one can imagine the history of this woman because she can be anyone from anywhere. She can be thought of to be a well respected Queen, or a nurturing goddess once used as a deity, or just simply a common maiden to represent average females in society. All culture and history really is compiled of is the mixing of cultures and how modern day and people came to be. It was because of the mass mixtures and cultures of people that made new societies and new religions. Today, societies are a massive melting pot mixed with ideas and customs that have come from all over the world. Similiar to the way Greek sculpting skills and artistic techniques spread, the Lady of Auxerre is a brilliant mix of regions all make up who she is. Although there is not much history regarding to the Lady of Auxerre, people continue to be in awe of the beautiful sculpture with the very faint half smirking grin.

BibliographyEdit

Hazan, Fernand. "A Dictionary of Greek Civilization." France. 1966.

Donohue, A. A. "Greek Sculpture and the Problem of Description." Cambridge University, New York. 1995.

Kleiner, Fred S. "Gardner's Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective." Vol. 1. Wadsworth. 2006.

Robertson, Martin. "A Shorter History of Greek Art." Cambridge University, New York. 1991

James, Sharon L. "A Companion to Women in the Ancient World." Blackwell Publishing. 2012. 

"Statue of a Woman." The Louvre. http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/statue-woman-known-lady-auxerre

"Art of the Day." Art History Attacks. http://arthistoryattacks.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

"Lady of Auxerre." The Museum of Antiquities. http://www.usask.ca/antiquities/collection/archaicgreek/ladyauxerre.html

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