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The Venus of Menton, one of the Grimaldi Venuses

The Venus of Menton is a figurine in yellow steatite (soapstone) from Grimaldi. The figure is naked, breasts, abdomen and buttocks are prominent, the pubis and vulva are well marked. The arms are fused with the bust. The head is in the form of a ball, and extends down the back via the hair. It resembles many other venus figures from the upper European Palaeolithic. It was found in the 1880s in the Barma Grande and acquired by Salomon Reinach in 1896 for the French MNA.

Louis Alexandre Jullien was an antique dealer from Marseilles who discovered fifteen small sculptures from the excavations he led between 1883 and 1895 in the caves of Grimaldi, Liguria, Italy, a group of well-known sites of the Upper Paleolithic on the Mediterranean coast adjacent to the French border. In 1896, Jullien sold the 'yellow steatite statuette' (Venus of Menton) to Salomon Reinach's Musee des Antiquités Nationales (MAN) in Saint Germain-en-Laye. Six others (five in 1897 and one in 1903) were sold to the famous pre-historian and collector of Paleolithic art, Edouard Piette, who later left his entire collection to MAN in 1906.


Venus yellow steatite Venus yellow steatite

Venus of Menton

Figurine in yellow steatite (soapstone), Grimaldi.

Dimensions: 47 mm long.

The figure is naked, breasts, abdomen and buttocks are prominent, the pubis and vulva are well marked. The arms are fused with the torso. The head is in the form of a ball, and extends down the back via the hair. It resembles many other venus figures from the upper European Palaeolithic.

Found in the 1880s in the Barma Grande and acquired by Salomon Reinach in 1896 for the French MNA.

Yellow steatite, 48 mm, 24 000 - 19 000 BP. Musee des Antiquités Nationales, Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Photo and (translated) text: Cohen (2003)




The head is ovoid, there are no facial features, there is a queue of hair down the back and there are no forearms. The breasts are rounded and very large. The figure has a prominent belly and wide hips. The legs terminate above the knees. No trace of ochre has been found on the figure.

It was found at Barma Grande at a depth between 4.2 m and 4.7 m. (White et Bisson, 1998)

References

  1. Cohen C., 2003: La femme des origines. Images de la femme dans la préhistoire occidentale,, Paris, Belin-Herscher, 2003, 191 pages.
  2. White, R., Bisson M., 1998: Imagerie féminine du Paléolithique : l'apport des nouvelles statuettes de Grimaldi, Gallia préhistoire. Tome 40, 1998. pp. 95-132.


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