The Female Figure Represented in Archaic, Classical, and Hellenic Sculpture

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In the Archaic period, the Greeks developed a monumental stone sculpture for the representation of life-size, nude, young men (kouroi) and life-size, clothed, young women (korai). The kouroi, which were evidently made to serve a funerary purpose at a gravesite, emulate the frontal pose of standard Egyptian statues, but, over the course of the sixth century, are carved with increasingly more realistic anatomy. Faces, however, retain the conventional "Archaic smile" which serves to illustrate that the person is alive. Korai, shown wearing contemporary fashionable clothing, evidently stood as votive offerings in temple sanctuaries. A stylistic "sister" to the Anavysos kouros is the statue of a kore wearing a peplos, a simple, long, woolen belted garment that gives the female figure a columnar appearance. A characteristic of this statue is representational of the style of hair that was popular in the culture of the time. Long braided locks are arranged on the sculptures of women held by a brim worn atop the forehead. Another distinct characteristic displaying the popular posture present in the scultpure of women in the Archaic period was the positioning of the arms. One arm is positioned across the abdomen while the other across the waistline along their backside. This elegant and graceful pose is acredited to the bow of an actor/actress after their performance in a play still to present day.

The change in artistic style from the Archaic to the Classical seems to have coincided with the Greek repulse of the Persians after their sack of the Athenian Acropolis in 480 BCE. The Early Classical style (ca. 480-450 BCE) is marked by radical changes in the approach to the human figure. During the High Classical period (ca. 450-400 BCE) artists and architects established canons of proportions for both the human figure and for temples. The Classical style profoundly influenced the subsequent development of Western art and culture. Early Classical sculptures were the first...