Marble figurines are undoubtedly Early Cycladic culture’s most characteristic and unusual creation. Only one marble carving workshop, at Skarkos in Ios, which yielded figurines and tools, has been identified so far. However, studies of how the figurines were made have led to the identification of individual craftsmen. These studies show that figurines were produced according to specific proportions and that, despite their standardization, some closely resemble others in the rendering of specific details, which characterize a number of artists or “masters”.
These “masters” are named conventionally for the museum (e.g. “Naxos Museum Master”) or collection (e.g. “Goulandris Master”) that houses their most characteristic work or the archaeologist who discovered it (e.g. “Doumas Master”). Figurines by the “Goulandris Master”, the most prolific sculptor of the Early Cycladic II period, have solid shapes, a lyre-shaped head with painted decoration, and a short neck. The “Naxos Museum Master”, on the other hand, made figurines with a long face, narrow torso, curved shoulders, and breasts set high on the torso.
Some scholars, however, question the existence of certain “masters” and attribute the similarity between figurines either to the prevalent canon of proportions or to local workshops.
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