A handmade terracotta "Papades" statuette of a goddess, of flattened form standing with arms extended and wearing a long embroidered dress and high polos with central circular ornament indicating her status as a goddess.
Such Boeotian plank figurines were dubbed 'Papades' or 'priests' (Greek Παπάδες), by the Boeotian villagers, who were the first to find them in their fields. Many examples were excavated in Tanagra and Rhitsona in the 19th century. The interpretation of this type of figurine is difficult. Their frequent presence in graves permits the hypothesis that they were linked with the worship of the chthonic deities Demeter and Kore, goddesses related to fecundity and the harvest. Another theory is they represent in clay the "daidala", - wooden effigies dressed as brides - which, according to ancient literary sources were used in rituals on Mt Kithairon in Boeotia, to honour Hera, the wife of Zeus and patron goddess of marriage.
Dimensions: Height: 25.5 cm (10 inches)
Condition: Despite a crack in the front of the headdress, intact and in good condition overall.
Provenance: Major Harold De Vahl Rubin (1899-1964), grazier, art-collector and philanthropist, was born in Melbourne, Australia beginning his education at Broome, Western Australia, where his father owned a pearling fleet. After the family moved to London, he attended University College School, Hampstead (1908-15), and Eton College (1916). Commissioned in the 5th Battalion, Coldstream Guards, in February 1917, he served with the 38th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), and was promoted lieutenant in January 1918. He returned to civilian life in 1919. Left a fortune by his father (who had died in 1919), he set up as a pearl merchant in London in the mid-1920s. During the 1930s he expanded the family's pastoral holdings in Queensland and Western Australia, and began to collect paintings. In October 1941, he was again commissioned in the British Army and demobilized in 1945 with the honorary rank of major, working as an art dealer at 20 Brook Street, London.
Rubin returned to Australia in 1950 to run his extensive grazing interests which included Queensland Pastoral Estates and properties on the De Grey River in Western Australia. He lived at Toorak House, a mansion built by Sir James Dickson at Hamilton, Brisbane, but regularly visited his 17,000-acre (6880 ha) property Pikedale, near Stanthorpe, and kept a flat at the Astor in Macquarie Street, Sydney.
In 1959 Rubin facilitated the Queensland Art Gallery's acquisition of seven important European paintings from his private collection, comprising works by Picasso, Degas, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Vlaminck which were valued in all at £126,504. The most significant was Picasso's 'La Belle Hollandaise' (1905), painted in the years between the artist's 'blue' and 'rose' periods. Rubin was prescient in recognizing what he called its 'exquisite tenderness'. The painting is frequently requested for inclusion in major international exhibitions of Picasso's art.
Rubin was a man of eccentric habits, but he initiated many of the bizarre stories about himself, making it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. His city residences were filled with paintings, stacked face to face, as well as with live and stuffed exotic and domestic birds—'parrots, lorikeets, budgies, canaries, finches and sparrows'. He bought entire exhibitions of work by young painters; Robert Hughes, who became an art critic, benefited from his largesse.
He died of cancer on 7 March 1964, his wife and their son survived him, as did the son of each of his first and third marriages; the son of his fourth marriage predeceased him. The bulk of his art collection, which had once numbered four hundred works, including sixty paintings by (Sir) William Dobell, was sold by auction between 1971 and 1973: The Harold de Vahl Rubin Collection Part 1, Christie's Australia, Sydney, 4 October 1972, and the Harold de Vahl Rubin Collection Part II, Christie's Australia, Sydney, 2 October 1973.