Giustiniani Stele, view of stele from right

Giustiniani Stele, detail of crowning ornament of stele

Giustiniani Stele, upper torso and head of girl

Giustiniani Stele, detail of head

Giustiniani Stele, mid-section of relief with torso of girl

Giustiniani Stele, upper portion of relief

Collection: Berlin, Antikenmuseen
Title: Giustiniani Stele
Summary: Young woman in peplos, with round box
Object Function: Funerary
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Stele, relief-decorated
Category: Single monument
Style: Early Classical
Technique: Low relief
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 460 BC - ca. 450 BC

H 1.43 m, W 0.40-0.46 m, D 0.12-0.09 m, D of relief 0.035 m, H of figure 0.92 m, H of akroterion 0.37 m

Scale: Under life-size
Region: Cyclades
Period: Early Classical

Subject Description:

A girl or young woman stands facing right, examining the contents of a round box which she holds in her left hand. She stands with both feet flat on a kind of plinth, which itself rests on the ground. The cover of the box sits on the ground in front of her. The right foot is placed in front of the left; the right knee projects just slightly. Otherwise the folds of her beltless peplos drop in uninterrupted vertical lines from her shoulders to her ankles. The peplos is the only garment she wears. It is folded over to the level of the hips, and was pinned on the shoulder with a bronze fibula. Open on the right side, its selvages exhibit the hint of a flutter, a treatment which is used frequently on Parthenon drapery. The garment is loosely draped around the neck, exposing the uppermost part of the chest. No necklace is visible, though it could have been painted, like the straps of the sandals and the dress itself. Traces of a pattern around the hem were still visible in Furtwängler's day. Although the body is turned ever so slightly toward the viewer, especially visible in the upper torso and emphasized by the opening of the peplos toward the back of the figure, the head is depicted in profile. The eye is slanted in line with the downward turn of the face. The eyeball is somewhat rounded, the upper and lower lids thick, the lips full. The fine strands of the hair are combed over the crown and gathered at the back of the head, where the hair is looped and held in place by a fillet wound round the head several times. The hair over the forehead is styled in soft curls. The ear was once decorated with a metal earring. While supporting the open box in her left hand, the girl holds something from it in her right hand, apparently an object which she can dangle from her thumb and index finger. It was probably painted in the space above the box. Perhaps a grave gift, perhaps a piece of jewelry, Blümel points out that the object and general motif might well have a religious significance.

The stele has a relatively elaborate crown molding as well as a molding at the base. Rather than being simply flat, the edges of the stele have been left to project in a kind of frame. Atop the stele is an elaborate floral finial consisting of two acanthus volutes and a large palmette.

Form & Style:

The relief exhibits Ionian influence and may be the work of an island sculptor. Blümel suggests Paros as the source. The relief may be compared with the slightly later grave stele of a young girl with birds in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York 27.45), whose Parian provenance is certain.

Condition: Nearly complete

Condition Description:

Includes finial. Missing small fragments along the edges, with some loss along the horizontal break which cuts across neck of figure. Some chipping of the surface, especially on the arm and along the edges of the folds of the peplos.

Collection History:

Formerly in the Giustiniani Collection in Venice. Acquired in 1897.

Sources Used:

Boardman 1985a, fig. 51; Hiller 1975, K8; Ridgway 1970, 46ff.; Blümel 1966, no. 2; Friis Johansen 1951, fig. 56