Woman with Mirror Stele, head and torso from right

Woman with Mirror Stele, detail showing veil

Woman with Mirror Stele, detail of mirror and left arm

Woman with Mirror Stele, frontal view

Woman with Mirror Stele, detail of torso

Woman with Mirror Stele, detail of head and upper torso

Collection: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Title: Grave Stele of Woman with Mirror
Summary: Woman facing right, looking into mirror
Object Function: Funerary
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Stele, relief-decorated
Category: Single sculpture
Style: High Classical
Technique: Medium relief
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 410 BC - ca. 400 BC
Dimensions: H .058 m, W (top) 0.457 m, W (bottom) 0.425 m
Scale: Under life-size
Period: High Classical

Subject Description: The woman stands in a 3/4-view to right, with her head profile to right. She wears a medium-sleeved chiton with an overfold and a mantle draped over both shoulders, around her waist, and back over her left elbow. Her hair is bound tightly on top of her head, and a thin veil emerges behind the back of her head; she wears disk earrings. She directs a solemn gaze down at the mirror (perhaps in contemplation of her life, assuming that this image is meant to represent the deceased). The round mirror has a plain surface (polished smoothly for reflective purposes), with a handle comprised of a short cylindrical shaft, a rectangular element at the top, and a spherical knob at the bottom.

Form & Style:

The naiskos within which she stands is comprised of the triangular pediment (front) of a gabled roof, with palmette akroteria over the top and at both corners, supported by two antae (pilasters) flaring to narrow, square abaci (transitional elements), with etched lines ca. 3 cm below each abacus.

The relief is carved in a simple style, with finely worked detail, in medium relief over most of the body, with engraved detail used to represent the woman's veil, fluttering behind her neck. According to Comstock & Vermeule, J. Frel has suggested that this stele, a banquet relief discovered near the Piraeus Archaeological Museum, and a similar fragment in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, are by the same sculptor (for which see J. -M. Dentzer, BCH 94 (1970) 67-90, fig. 1).

Condition: Single piece

Condition Description: A single piece comprising the top of the stele, including both vertical edges, broken off just below the woman's waist and elbows; chipped slightly at the bottom, with some scratches and yellowish-gray adhesions on the front surface; the face, which was in highest relief, is quite worn, so that facial features are indistinct.

Material Description: A fine-medium grained, white, somewhat translucent marble, 'Pentelic' according to Comstock & Vermeule

Collection History: Formerly in the E.P. Warren Collection. Acquired by the MFA in 1904.

Sources Used: Clairmont 1993, 1.243-44, cat. 1.170 (ill.); Comstock & Vermeule 1976, no. 65

Other Bibliography: M. Polojiorghi, Boreas 13 (1990) 16; Meyer 1989, 53; W. Stern in Rudolph & Calinescu 1988, 33, under no. 12; Vedder 1985, 170 n. 63c; MFA Handbook 1984, 100-101, ill.; Vermeule 1982, 173-74, 185, 227, 494, fig. 227; Lohmann 1979, 73, n. 559; Schmaltz 1979, 19 (n. 24), 25 (ns. 45, 50); V.M. Strocka, JdI 94 (1979) 149 (n. 27), 161; Vierneisel-Schlörb 1979, 172 n. 13; P.C. Bol and F. Eckstein, AntPl 15 (1975) 88 n. 27b; Süsserott 1938, 107 (n. 74), 220; Dohrn 1957, 141-43 no. 52, 145, 156, 183; Diepolder 1931, 17 f., 25, 27, pl. 10