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A Greek Terracotta Protome of Demeter, ca 5th century BC

Finely molded with traces of white slip, the goddess wears a chiton with pleated sleeves, her lovely face with serene expression, featuring large almond eyes, her full lips pleasingly arched in the archaic smile, the strong chin dimpled, and her regal nose is straight and sharp.   Below the low flaring polos, her hair is beautifully arranged; centrally parted, it is swept up at the sides to fall in long ribbed plaits to her shoulders. 

Protomoi are common, not in graves, but in votive deposits and sanctuaries.  Their Archaic presence at a site does not prove an exclusive devotion to a preferred divinity but is rather evidence of trade patterns.  As is the case with this example, protomoi was usually supplied with suspension holes for hanging, either inside shrines or perhaps on trees in sanctuaries.

Closely related examples are in the Louvre (Simone Mollard-Besques, Catalogue raisonné des figurines et reliefs en terre-cuite grecs, étrusques et romains, vol. I: Époques préhellénique, géométrique, archaïque et classique, Paris, 1954, no. C82, pl. LXIX), the British Museum ( R. A. Higgins,  Catalogue of the Terracottas in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum,  London, 1954, no. 857, p. 228.), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 23.258), and the Danish National Museum (Niels Breitenstein, Catalogue of Terracottas, Cypriote, Greek, Etrusco-Italian and Roman, Copenhagen, 1941, no. 333, pl. XL).  

Exhibited: Workhouse Art Center, Virginia, International Ceramics Exhibition, August 13-October 16, 2016

Condition:  Complete and professionally rejoined.  With museum quality custom mount. A truly lovely piece.

Dimensions:   Height:  8 1/4 inches (21 cm)

Provenance: Estate of Hope N. Efron (1919 - 2013), Washington DC and then by descent. Mrs. Efron worked as an economist at the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics from 1939 to 1942. She was featured in the 2005 documentary “Government Girls of World War II,” a locally produced film featuring stories from women who flocked to Washington in the 1940s to assist with the World War II effort. She received special commendations for her volunteer work with the American Councils for International Education and Youth for Understanding, both international student-exchange programs. She also volunteered at Georgetown Day School and was a member of Temple Sinai, both in Washington.

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