View full screen - View 1 of Lot 6. Olmec Stone Figure, Puebla Region, Middle Preclassic, circa 900 - 600 BC.
6

Olmec Stone Figure, Puebla Region, Middle Preclassic, circa 900 - 600 BC

Estimate:

70,000 - 90,000 USD

Property from a New York Private Collection

Olmec Stone Figure, Puebla Region, Middle Preclassic, circa 900 - 600 BC

Olmec Stone Figure, Puebla Region, Middle Preclassic, circa 900 - 600 BC

Estimate:

70,000 - 90,000 USD

Property from a New York Private Collection

Olmec Stone Figure, Puebla Region

Middle Preclassic, circa 900 - 600 BC


Height: 11 in (28 cm)

Overall very strong modelling details. Serpentine shows areas of clean breaks and repair, including horizontally between the nose and lips, horizontally above the navel, left and right wrist, upper thigh of proper right leg, and upper thigh of proper left leg.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.

New York Private Collection, acquired before 1964
Michael D. Coe, ed., The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership, Princeton, 1996, p. 244, cat. no. 142
The Art Museum, Princeton University, The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership, December 16, 1995 - February 25, 1996; additional venue: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, April 14 - June 9, 1996
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, long term loan, 2000 - 2010
The powerful status of this individual is well conveyed by his imposing physiognomy, facial expression and headdress. Figures in stoic and firm postures such as this are one manifestation of the ritual meditative stances associated with shamanic authority; these "ceremonial and ritual positions and gestures convey religious and political meaning." (Michael D. Coe, ed., The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership, Princeton, 1996, p. 241).

The lustrous green-brown serpentine is carved with emphasis on the large head and long torso, nearly equal in proportions. The musculature of the strong arms, legs and shoulders complement the fully modeled parted lips, flared nostrils, and the large and deeply recessed eyes which are highlighted by thin incised brows. It is notable that the facial features associated with the important senses of sight, sound and voice are prominently sculpted, as is the genitalia shown beneath a smooth loincloth.
The tall cylindrical headdress is an important accoutrement indicating "temporal or religious authority or identified with a particular clan or person" (ibid., p. 244). The prominent ears projecting from the side might be attachments to the headdress, and the wrists and ankles show raised elements that are likely ornaments. 

The figure is one of the important transitional sculptures of the later Olmec style as seen in the Guerrero and Puebla regions, where the Olmec style ultimately influenced later Teotihuacan stone figures.

For a related figure from the Miguel Covarrubias collection in the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City (inv no. 09.0-01744; INAH inv. no. 10-2562), see S.K. Lothrop, Treasures of Ancient America, Geneva, 1964, p.43. Also see the smaller serpentine figure of related form from the Guerrero region illustrated in Michael D. Coe, ed., The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership, Princeton, 1996, p. 303, cat. no. 217.