Tête d’Iris dite «Tête Laborde» : fragment de figure féminine du fronton ouest du Parthénon
Entre 448 et 432 avant J.-C.
The sculptor and architect Phidias oversaw the reconstruction of Athens at the time of Pericles, around 450 BC. He was also in charge of the decoration of the Parthenon: a superb treasury (a building used to house ex-votos) for the statue of Athena presented to the goddess by the Athenians in gratitude for their victory over the Persians. Standing twelve meters high, the statue was composed of sheets of ivory and gold (weighing a ton!) attached to a wooden framework. «Chryselephantine» statues of this type were the most prestigious of all. A small-scale Roman copy in marble stands against the left-hand wall.
Phidias was also responsible for another similar statue: the Zeus of Olympia, considered in Antiquity as one of the seven wonders of the world. A reconstruction of it can be seen in the model of the temple at Olympia.
This impassive face detached from a pediment, timeless and serene, was composed according to a system of proportions. It measures three times the length of the nose, which starts from the forehead, in «Greek-profile» style. No temporal, human expression disturbs its abstract perfection. It was a divine beauty, a Platonic ideal that the artist sought to depict, not a worldly reality. In the fourth century BC, Plato wrote that no artist could attain ideal Beauty, far removed from the accidents and illusions of human life. Only a rigorous intellectual quest might achieve it, supported if necessary by concrete images, but only in order to transcend them.