Statuette of a Dancer
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Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

Greek, Taras, South Italy, 300 - 200 B.C.
9 1/4 in.

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A dancer steps forward, looking downward as she moves. Her dress swirls around her feet and the edges of her enveloping cloak flare out at her sides. She wears an ivy wreath in her stylishly arranged hair.

Although simple terracotta figures were made throughout the Greek world, Tarentum in South Italy was a leading production center of more sophisticated terracotta figures in the Hellenistic period. Tarentine artists quickly adopted the depiction of stylish women, called Tanagra figurines, which began in Athens in the late 300s B.C. Such women, either standing still or dancing, were the most common type of figurine produced at Tarentum.

These figures are found in large quantities in religious sanctuaries where they were left as offerings to the gods. Scholars are not certain why these objects were chosen as votives, but it is possible that these figures were representations of the rich, well-dressed women of the Tarentine aristocracy who would have dedicated them.