THE ART OF THE ICE AGE - EXPLORING THE DEEPER HISTORY OF ART
ICE AGE SCULPTURE: BRASSEMPOUY HEAD
Brassempouy: Portrait Head
Gravettian about 23,000 years old
Found in 1894, this beautiful portrait head of a woman is justifiably one of the most famous works of Ice Age art. Made from the core of ivory from a mammoth tusk it is an accomplished piece of sculpture. Scraped and polished in outline, the eyebrows, nose and chin are carved in relief and the pupils in the eyes are marked by little holes. The hairstyle has been created by incised horizontal and vertical lines which form a pattern of squares. This is perhaps indicative of braiding although when the figure was first discovered it was thought to be a decorative hood giving rise to the title 'Dame à la capuche'. The head is sometimes shown on a body reconstructed from a number of broken fragments but actually appears to be a complete work.
Grotte du Pape, Brassempouy, Landes, France.
Musée des Antiquités Nationales, St Germain-en-Laye, Paris.