British Museum gains rare Cycladic figure

  • 29 June 2011

The Art Fund has helped the British Museum acquire a rare marble sculpture made in the Cyclades, Greece, between c. 2300-2200 BC.

Cycladic Figurine, British Museum

Cycladic Figurine, British Museum

The Art Fund has helped the British Museum acquire a rare marble sculpture made in the Cyclades, Greece, between c. 2300–2200 BC.

This unusual figurine depicts a ‘hunter-warrior’ type characterised by the presence of a belt and/or baldric. This is the first sculpture of its kind to enter a UK public collection and there are only three others known in the world. The British Museum holds the leading collection of Cycladic figurines in the country - although until now they have all been female. The people of the Aegean islands known as the Cyclades began to produce objects in the early Greek Bronze Age.

The sculpture belonged to the abstract-expressionist artist Wolfgang Paalen (1905-1959) who lived and worked in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. Paalen gave or sold the figurine to a private individual in New York in 1952, and it comes to the British Museum from this private collection.

The acquisition has been made possible by the Art Fund, which gave £100,000 towards the total cost of £302,998, and generous private donations from Betsy and Jack Ryan, The Curtain Foundation, Mrs Barbara Fleischman and the Patrons of the British Museum.

Find out more about the Cycladic figure on Art Saved

Read Maev Kennedy's article on the British Museum's Annual Review