INDEXMy highlight of 2015 — the list in fullRead more
My highlight of the year was a Cycladic marble female figure, which came from a distinguished French private collection formed by Henri Paricaud, a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite. With his wife Photinie, who was of Greek descent, Paricaud used to travel around the Mediterranean and the couple’s love for ancient civilisations inspired their acquisitions.
This female figure, with her lyre-shaped head and rounded hips, was originally to be shown reclining. It dates from between 2700-2600 B.C. and encompasses the most iconic sculptural types to have survived from antiquity. They were found in the context of burial sites and probably had a votive or ritualistic role, but to this day it is still not clear what their original function was, and I find this aura of mystery captivating.
What I love is how these early sculptors reduced the human form to its bare minimum — to its quintessence, and with such maestria. The care shown to manufacture them demonstrates how highly valued and cherished they were. Did these sculptors know that they were producing art? I like to think so.
Many modern artists are aiming to do nothing different today and Cycladic art has been an inspiration to many: Brancusi, Modigliani, Hepworth, and Moore, who said: ‘I love and admire Cycladic sculpture. It has such great elemental simplicity’. For Picasso, they were an embodiment of the true artistic spirit and a reminder of the enduring power of art as a legacy.
A Cycladic marble reclining female figure, early Spedos variety, early Cycladic II, Circa 2700-2600 B.C. Estimate: £70,000-100,000. Sold for £194,000 on 15 April at Christie’s London
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