by Sheila Dillon, Duke University
Cambridge University Press (February 2010)
In this book, Sheila Dillon offers the first detailed analysis of the female portrait statue in the Greek world from the 4th century BCE to the 3rd century CE. A major component of Greek sculptural production, particularly in the Hellenistic period, female portrait statues are mostly missing from our histories of Greek portraiture. Whereas male portraits tend to stress their subject’s distinctiveness through physiognomic individuality, portraits of women are more idealized and visually homogeneous. In defining their subjects according to normative ideals of beauty rather than notions of corporeal individuality, Dillon argues that Greek portraits of women work differently than those of men and must be approached with different expectations. She examines the historical phenomenon of the commemoration of women in portrait statues and explores what these statues can tell us about Greek attitudes toward the public display of the female body.