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Video transcript

at the end of the fifth century BCE the end of the very brief period that we call the high classical moment it was a resurgence of funerary sculpture in Athens in fact we're standing in a room in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens that's filled with grave markers most of them in the form of what art historians call steely or upright slabs decorated with relief sculptures not so different from what we in the modern world would recognize as a gravestone exactly interestingly there was a disappearance of this type of monument during that high classical moment and then we see it reappear what we do have in the high classical moment is most of the great sculptors working on the sculptural program of the Parthenon and the other buildings of the Acropolis but we see private sculpture begin to reemerge that his sculpture that's not part of a program of the state exactly and before the Classical period in the archaic period there were poor away and poor a the male and female figures that were set up by the elite Greek families as funerary markers but during the period of democracy in Athens with state was primary and not wealthy families you see this resurgence especially in the cemeteries just outside of the city gates of Athens and that's where this particular sculpture was found which is called the grave Steeley of [ __ ] so [ __ ] so is the woman who is shown seated opening a box of jewelry presented to her by her servant and examining a necklace which is no longer there but which was once represented in paint there's such a precise rendering of the chair that she sits on well don't forget women's fear was the home women were not allowed to be citizens of Athens had she so is shown in a domestic setting we see plasters on either side and a pediment above on which we see an inscription that says a Jizo daughter of proxy knows women in ancient Greece that very circumscribed lives that were defined by their relationships with men first their fathers and then their husbands but I think that what I find most compelling is its quiet reverence this is so much in keeping with the tradition of the high classical that we see in Parthenon sculpture so this is a style that resembles very closely the kind of carving that we see on the figures on the Parthenon frieze drapery that very closely follows the form of the body that creates elaborate folds and swirls that have a visual interest in their own right the drapery that bunches up between her two arms and around her belly and between her breasts are beautiful passages of sculpting her foot is resting on a footrest so that there's no part of her is actually touching the ground we see a beautiful representation of her foot foreshortened and wearing a sandal look at the very delicate veil that falls to the right of the shoulder or the way in which the drapes around her legs fall on the far side of the chair and yet the drape by her waist falls on this side of the chair so although we have this very shallow space we have the full width of the body and yet for all of this really vivid carving this is a quiet image that is absolutely appropriate to the solemn mood of a grave stealing you
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