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workshop of Severo da Ravenna
Overall: 18.2 cm (7 3/16 in.)
Norman O. Stone and Ella A. Stone Memorial Fund 1963.92
The complex, corkscrew-like twist of the figure’s body around a central axis indicates that this work was meant to be seen and admired in the round. Producing a sculpture of a body in motion posed a challenge for Renaissance artists, and complex compositions like this were often adapted from prints and paintings. The pose of this bronze statuette may have been inspired by a print representing the Greek sea goddess Thetis. Thetis was courted by the gods Zeus (Jupiter) and Poseidon (Neptune), but was eventually married to the mortal Peleus; the Greek hero Achilles was their son. In the print, Thetis pours water from a jug held at her hip and her upraised foot rests on a large shell, both referencing her role as sea goddess. The statuette’s lack of identifying attributes encourages the viewer to focus instead on the figure’s graceful spiraling form, and the sculptor’s skill in creating a convincing sense of movement.
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