De Korè beelden

ouzo on the rocks

apartment, excursions and art historical guide

Peloponnese, Greece

The korai


If we look at the development of the sculptures we call the Korai (plural form of korè, or maiden) we can clearly see that the clothing is changing to more and more rendering of details of the dress. Roughly it changes from the cylindrical shape without folding to a fluttering, wet cloth that is plastered against the body and no longer covers up the shape of the body.

You can also see the development of the distribution of the weight of the body. In the beginning the women are depicted with the feet next to eachother, but after some time they get a standing and a resting leg, like their male counterparts. And there is also the twist in the body.

We start this explination with probably the oldest known life sized statue of a standing korè. It is from the island of Delos and is probably made between 660-650 BC. Just like the sculptures of the male youth the arms are attached to the body. You find this statue at the Nat Arch Museum in Athens.

At the Louvre in Paris you will find the next example, we call "the Lady of Auxerre" named after the place where she was first exibited (in 1907). She holds one hand on her breasts and the hair style is typically Egyptian. The statue is only 75 cm high and is made between 630 and 600 BC. We don't know where she was found, so we don't know for sure to what culture she belonged or even if it was a Greek or even Egyptian. But because of the way of sculpturing (we call Daedalic) we assume that is is Greek. And because of the kind of limestone the sculptor used, scolars think it must have been made on Crete. The belt and the narrow waistline is on the other hand Mycenaean.

The hairstyle of the korè (from Attica) in the middle is different and we see stylized foldings in the dress. It dates from 5780-570 BC and is exibited at the Museum of Berlin.

The clothing of the next korè (of the island of Samos, 575-550 BC, at the Louvre in Paris) is even more playfull and she is a little more elegant than her colleague from Berlin. And finally at the "Peplos korè" (named after the woolen tunic). The posture is no longer rigid and the clothing is depicted in different, various ways. You can see her at the Akropolis museum in Athens.


I will show you some more examples of korai from the period of 530 untill 500 BC, that show a variety of clothing and hair style. The depiction of the clothing is not natural, but the sculptor tries to do his best in this period we call late archaic.

On the left is the korè that was probably created by Antenor between 530 and 525 BC (Akropolis museum, Athens), then the korè with number 674 (510-500 BC, Akropolis museum, Athens) and the korè with number 675 (530-515 BC, Akropolis museum, Athens). When you look at these statues notice the stylization and the strive for realism.

The sculpture on the right (above) is called the korè of Klazomenai (540-525 BC, Louvre, Paris) and was found in Minor Asia. We also see at this example the combination of a strive for realism and stylization. The korè has put her left leg a little forward.

On the left we see two statues we will see again and more extensively detailed further on, but we cannot let them out of the brief summation.

Left the Athena Parthenos. The original is said to be made by Phidias between 447 and 439 BC. This Roman copy is exibited at the Nat Arch Museum in Athens. More details you can find at the chapter on Phidias.


Next to the Athnea Parthenos you see the Niké of Paionios. More details you will find in the chapter on Olympia. Important is now to see the drapery of the clothing. The wind blows the wet cloth against the body. The sculpture was made between 420 and 410 BC and is exibited at the museum of the archaeological site in Olympia.

Next we come to three almost the same statues, the Amazones. The left one is a copy of an original made by Phidias (440-430 BC). The middle one is a copy from an original made by Polykleitos (440-430 BC) and the right one is a copy of an original made by Kresilas (440-430 BC).

It is obvious that these contemporaries knew eachother's works and they tried to be better than the others.

Phidias' Amazione shows a natural folding and a realistic rendering of the body. All three show a standing and a resting leg. The proportions of the parts of the body would change afterwards.

The Amazones are exhibited at the Villa of Hadrian in Tivoli, at the Metropolitan in New York and at the Capitoline in Rome.

The sculpture on the left is the "Venus Genetrix", a Roman copy of a Greek original from 430-400 BC. The other one is a Karyatide (420-413 BC).

Notice the very natural drapery and foldings. Some parts of the body are clearly visible through the clothing.

This Karyatide was once part of the Erechteion on the Akropolis of Athens, but is now part of the collection of the British museum in London. The Venus Genetrix is exhibited at the Louvre in Paris.

Now follow a couple of sculptures with much ado in the time the originals were created.

The left one is "the Aphrodite of Knidos" of Praxiteles. See the chapter with his name for maore details, but it was the first time in Greek art history that a woman (in this case a goddess) was depicted completely nude. This Roman copy is exhibited at the National Museum in Rome. Also in Rome but then in the Capitoline Museum is the "Capitoline Aphrodite" exhibited. The original was made between 320 and 280 BC. The body shows a slight S-shape and the limbs are in complete balance: one arm a little higher than the other, a resting and a standing leg, the slightly tilted pelvis and the twist of the upper part of the body and again the turning of the head. In short a well conceived design. Because of the posture the sculptures invite us to take a look from all sides.

On the right we see two other Aphrodites; one (the Aphrodite of Arles) is attributed to Praxiteles and was made between 350 and 330 BC. The other one is called "the Aphrodite of Melos" aka the Venus of Milo. It's the peak of the Hellenistic period (around 200 BC).

Finally at the end of this brief introduction the ultimate Hellenistic sculpture full of movement, expression and emotion. It is called "the Laokoon group". Between the first korè and this one are only 5 centuries. From a stone column with some human features to a victim screaming with pain and fear.

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