AN EXPLORATION OF ART HISTORY
The Old Market Woman sculpture was a bit of a joke in our Art History class, so we decided to to replicate her with our friend Dehlia. The woman is either a replica of a Greek Hellenistic sculpture or an original by sculpturist Julio Claudian, but ultimately portrays an old woman with market supplies. Looking up close, the struggle of the woman becomes almost horrific due to the disintegration of the marble over the years, altering her facial features to that of pain. Her face is most likely damaged because during the period of Late Antiquity, the pagan image would have provoked hostility by the Christians.
The statue was found in Rome in 1907, wearing a loose dress, sandals, and a crown of ivy leaves. She stands at 50 inches tall with a slight hunch and two missing arms. She is very realistic, because during the Hellenistic period sculptors focused on the accurate portrayal of age, wealth and emotion. Unlike the classical Greek period, where idealized figures were not popular. It is unknown where the old woman is headed, but it is thought that she is dressed for a wine festival for the god Dionysus and has brought offerings in a basket (fruit and two chickens).
That is only one interpretation of the market woman’s intentions, however. Some historians think that she was a drunk poor woman trying to sell her chickens and veggies at a fair, which is also what Ellis and I originally thought from our textbook. It made sense that the hellenistic period might portray someone of lower class because they were less concerned about making art perfect.When Ellis and I were at the Met, we listened in on a docent randomly speaking about the Market Woman which is held in their Greek section. It turns out, Old Market Woman might be not be poor and old at all. Her dress is “made of fine fabric” and she was most definitely venerating wine god Dionysos because of the ivy wreath she is wearing.
The obvious choice to replicate the Old Market Woman was Dehlia, our art history classmate. We dressed her in a beautiful greek dress (a sheet), and two offerings (a fluffy turkey and an art history textbook). Dehlia is much younger, prettier and classic than the Old Market Woman, so the replica is supposed to be sort of a spin on what she might have looked like in younger, more modern days (she looks like a super hip market woman in front of the graffiti art wall).