Female Greek Statues

Female Greek Statues – Top Famous Greek Statues of Women

Nudity, and in particular, the female form, has fascinated artists throughout history. When one thinks of one nude sculpture, one immediately thinks of the white marble statues of Ancient Greece. However, these were not always as accepted as they are today. This notion will be explored through ten of the most famous female Greek statues, both nude and clothed.



A Brief Look at the Role of Women in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek culture is full of paradoxes. In one sense, women were revered, and goddesses played a major role in the people of Greece’s religious beliefs. This is something that stands out, as most cultures tend to give goddesses a minor role or exclude the divine feminine entirely.

However, even with their strong sense of goddess culture, women in Ancient Greece were still seen as inferior to men.

Female Greek Statues and Other Art Slave Market in Ancient Rome (1884) by Jean-Léon Gérôme, depicting women being auctioned as slaves in Rome – a practice that was also common in Ancient Greece; Jean-Léon Gérôme, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It is hard to get an accurate understanding of Grecian women as most texts from the time were written by men. Yet this itself adds to the narrative. Women in Ancient Greece (in most states) had little to no rights. They could not own property, claim inheritance, or have their name spoken in public. They were not even considered citizens unless attached to a husband or male guardian.

For this reason, there was no place for an unmarried woman in society.

Young girls were married to a man of their father’s choice between the ages of 13 to 15 years old. These men were typically a minimum of 20 years their senior. In some cases, if no suitable match was found, these young women would be made to marry uncles or other male relatives to keep the money within the family.

In Ancient Greece, as in many other cultures around the world, it was completely acceptable for men to engage in extramarital affairs with sex workers. However, women who engaged in moicheia (a concept similar to adultery) would lose their citizenship and their lovers could be lawfully murdered by their husbands.


The Portrayal of the Female Form in Ancient Greece

Until about 4 BC, female Greek sculptures were never depicted in the nude. Male sculptures, however, were almost always nude with their genitalia sculpted in immense detail. This is not so hard to believe given that everyday women were not even allowed to leave the house without covering themselves head to toe. After Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Knidos (350 BC), nude female Greek statues began to rise in popularity.

However, unlike their male counterparts, only goddesses (and typically only Aphrodite, the goddess of lust) could be depicted in the nude; never earthly women.

Also dissimilar to male states, female Greek statues did not have fully realized genitals. Female reproductive organs would either be covered or left vague because they were considered obscene, and so to put them on a goddess would be blasphemy. 

Famous Female Greek Statues Variations of Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Knidos (350 BC). LEFT: Engraving of an early 20th-century coin from Knidos showing the Aphrodite of Knidos (4th century BC) by Praxiteles; Praxiteles, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons | MIDDLE: Roman copy of the 4th-century statue, the Aphrodite of Knidos, by Praxiteles, housed at the Museo nazionale romano di palazzo Altemps in Rome, Italy; Museo nazionale romano di palazzo Altemps, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons | RIGHT: Roman copy of the Aphrodite of Knidos (4th century BC) by Praxiteles, housed at the Glyptothek Museum in Munich, Germany; Glyptothek, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons



Famous Female Greek Sculptures

In this section, we will take a closer look at ten of the most significant Greek statues of women. By viewing this iconography, historians have learned a lot about Grecian society, their views on women, and their ideals surrounding beauty. 


Kore of Auxerre (650 – 625 BC)

Place of Origin Crete, Greece
Date of Creation 650 – 625 BC
Date of Discovery1907
Dimensions (cm)75
Current LocationLouvre Museum, Paris, France

In 1907, the mysterious Kore of Auxerre was found in the depository of the Museum of Auxerre. The origins of the statue were unknown, as well as how it ended up in a small town in France. This caused the public to take a particular interest in the Kore of Auxerre, which led to the artwork’s reallocation to the Louvre in Paris. After studying the sculpture in depth, it was determined that it likely came from Crete. Similar sculptures were found placed upon graves in Apollonia, which is also in Crete.

It shows distinct characteristics of the Greek Bronze Age (such as the pinched waist) as well as an Egyptian influence (the hair and stiff posture). This, along with carbon dating, allowed it to be dated back to the 7th century BC. 

The Greek word kore translates to “maiden” in English and typically refers to unmarried women. However, it has become synonymous with female grave-marking statues. The male equivalent is the kouros, which, unlike the kore, were always nude.

Ancient Greek Statues of Women So-called Lady or Kore of Auxerre (c. 650–625 BC), a female statuette in the Daedalic style. Made from limestone with incised decoration, formerly painted and possibly made in Crete. Currently housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France; Louvre Museum, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons


Phrasikleia Kore (550 BC)

ArtistAristion of Paros (c. 540 – 525 BC)
Place of OriginMyrrhinous (now Merenta), Greece
Date of Creation 550 BC
Date of Discovery1972
MediumParian marble
Dimensions (cm)211 (on a 26 cm tall platform)
Current LocationNational Archeological Museum of Athens, Athens, Greece

The Phrasikleia Kore is another funerary statue. It is renowned for being one of the most well-preserved female Greek sculptures from its time period. This is because it was buried to prevent it from being destroyed when the infamous dictator Peisistratos came to power again. He was known for desecrating the graves of families that opposed him. This kore is thought to be modeled on the goddess Hestia due to its inscription, which states that a virgin lies there.

The statue is holding a lotus bud, which reinforces the idea that she died before she could “bloom”. The lotus flower is an Egyptian symbol of death, which was adopted by the Ancient Greeks.

Greek Statues of Women Phrasikleia Kore (550 BC) by Aristion of Paros, currently housed at the National Archeological Museum of Athens in Athens, Greece; Joyofmuseums, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Peplos Kore (530 BC)

ArtistRampin Master (c. 6 BC)
Place of OriginAthens, Greece
Date of Creation 530 BC
Date of Discovery1886
MediumParian marble
Dimensions (cm)118
Current LocationAcropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

The Peplos Kore is unique amongst other Greek statues of women or kore. It is not thought to have been a grave marker but rather a temple decoration. Archeologists believe that the Peplos Kore was intended to be a goddess or a votive statue as a result of the remnants of paint and holes for attaching metallic accessories.

The sculpture’s somewhat relaxed character is also uncharacteristic of “kore” funerary statues.

Famous Ancient Greek Statues of Women The Peplos Kore (c. 530 BC) by the Rampin Master now stands in the Akropolis Museum in Athens, Greece. Pictured are the plaster cast (left) and reconstruction (right); Zde, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Athena Parthenos (447 BC)

ArtistPhidias (c. 490 – 425 BC)
Place of OriginAthens, Greece
Date of Creation 447 BC
Date of DiscoveryUnknown
Dimensions (cm)1,150
Current Location Destroyed sometime in the first millennia

The Athena Parthenos was one of the largest and most extravagant female Greek statues. It was more than 11 meters tall and made from ivory and gold. No expense was spared, as it was commissioned as a gift from the people of Athens to Athena herself. The goddess was said to have been depicted with all of her typical accompaniments, such as her shield, spear, and snake.

The Athena Parthenos did not survive the tests of time. However, it is uncertain whether it was sent to Constantinople (as has been suggested) or whether it was destroyed during the shift from Paganism to Christianity.

Whatever the case may be, it was such an iconic sculpture that many subsequent artists have since tried to create replicas of it using ancient texts to guide them.

Top Greek Statues of Women A Roman copy from the 1st to 2nd century AD of the Athena Parthenos (447 BC) by Phidias, housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France; Louvre Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Caryatids of Erechtheion (420 – 415 BC)

ArtistDiogenes (c. 412 – 323 BC)
Place of OriginAthens, Greece
Date of Creation 420 – 415 BC
Date of DiscoveryUnknown
MediumPentelic marble
Dimensions (cm)231
Current LocationAcropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

The Caryatids of Erechtheion are six female statues that function as columns to hold up the roof of the Erechtheion (one of the most sacred parts of the Acropolis). Their origin story is one that continually sparks debate. Some believe that the statues represent the women of Caryae, who betrayed Greece when the Persians invaded.

Thus, they were forced to hold up the roof of the Erechtheion as their eternal punishment. Others dispute this theory, believing them to be priestesses dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Mythology states that the priestesses were always beautiful young women who would dance with baskets on their heads to honor the goddess.

Given the importance of the Erechtheion, this theory is more likely.

Famous Female Greek Sculptures Replicas of the original Caryatids of Erechtheion (420-415 BC) by Diogenes, located at the Acropolis. The originals are housed at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece; Paolina27, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Aphrodite of Knidos (350 BC)

ArtistPraxiteles of Athens (395 – 330 BC)
Place of OriginKnidos (now Yazikӧy, Turkey), Greece
Date of Creation 350 BC
Date of DiscoveryOriginal is no longer in existence
Dimensions (cm)168 x 57, 2
Current LocationRoman copy can be seen at the Glyptotek, Munich, Germany

Aphrodite of Knidos achieved widespread fame due to it being one of the first nude Greek statues of a woman. The original was lost in a fire that took place in Constantinople in 475 AD. Thus, the Roman recreation (formally known as The Ludovisi Cnidian Aphrodite and created in 1 AD by an unknown artist) is the most popular copy of the original sculpture.

The sculpture was commissioned as an idol of the goddess Aphrodite for her temple. It caused a stir amongst the general populace, which put Knidos on the map.

Praxiteles created the sculpture to cause arousal, as this mimicked the effect Aphrodite was meant to have upon men. It is believed that the Aphrodite of Knidos was modeled on Phryne, one of the wealthiest and most sought-after courtesans in Ancient Greece.

Famous Greek Statues of Women Roman copy from the end of the 1st century BC of the Aphrodite of Knidos (350 BC) by Praxiteles of Athens, housed at the Glyptothek Museum in Munich, Germany; Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Diana of Gabii (347 BC)

ArtistPraxiteles of Athens (395 – 330 BC)
Place of OriginGabii, Italy
Date of Creation 347 BC
Date of Discovery1792
Dimensions (cm)165
Current LocationThe Louvre, Paris, France

Diana of Gabii is a statue that is thought to represent Artemis, the goddess of the moon, animals, and hunting. The goddess was adopted by the Romans and was known to them as Diana. Artemis was also linked to purity and virginity, which explains her modest attire. However, there is some uncertainty as to whether the sculpture was actually created by Praxiteles due to the shorter chiton, which only came into fashion about 20 years after Praxiteles’ time.

Yet, the sculpture is very distinctive of his style, leading to the theory that it was created by one of his sons.

Top Female Greek Sculptures Plaster cast of a 2nd-century AD Roman marble copy of the original Greek bronze statue, Diana of Gabii (347 BC) by Praxiteles of Athens, currently housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France; Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


Winged Victory of Samothrace (Nike) (200 BC)

Place of OriginSamothrace, Greece
Date of Creation 200 BC
Date of Discovery1863
MediumParian marble
Dimensions (cm)557
Current LocationThe Louvre, Paris, France

The Winged Victory of Samothrace statue, also known as Nike, is one of the few surviving original female Greek sculptures. It was decided that the missing parts of the statue would not be reconstructed during the restoration process in order to preserve its authenticity.

Thus, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which can be seen at the Louvre in Paris, is missing its head and both arms. Blocks of broken marble found alongside the statue have led archeologists to believe that the sculpture was once standing on a sculpted warship. This is backed up by the movement of its chiton (a feature that was unique amongst Greek statues).

Therefore, the statue is believed to be an offering to the goddess Nike to bring the people of Samothrace victory in their naval battles.

Female Greek Statues Winged Victory or Nike of Samothrace (200 BC), housed at the the Louvre Museum in Paris, France; Bradley Weber, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Venus de Milo (130 – 100 BC)

ArtistAlexandros of Antioch (2 – 1 BC)
Place of OriginMilos, Greece
Date of Creation 130 – 100 BC
Date of Discovery1820
MediumParian marble
Dimensions (cm)204
Current LocationThe Louvre, Paris, France

The Venus de Milo is one of the most famous female Grecian statues. The sculpture is often referred to in popular culture, with its lack of arms making it easily distinguishable. Although the inscription on the sculpture’s podium says “Venus”, archeologists believe it to be a portrayal of the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

She is depicted semi-nude, her breasts exposed to show off her sensuality. However, her genitals are covered to prevent the statue from appearing crude.

Most Famous Female Greek Statues Venus de Milo (130-100 BC) by Alexandros of Antioch, housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France; Mattgirling, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Varvakeion Athena (200 – 250 AD)

Place of OriginPsychiko, Greece
Date of Creation 200 – 250 AD
Date of Discovery1880
MediumPentelic marble
Dimensions (cm)105
Current LocationNational Archeological Museum of Athens, Athens, Greece

 The Varvakeion Athena was created during the Roman occupation of Greece. It is one of the many copies of the legendary Athena Parthenos, although there are some marked differences. Firstly, this statue is much smaller than the original, is made of marble and not ivory, and has gold paint instead of real gold.

Furthermore, it is missing the spear spoken about in ancient texts about the original statue.

Female Greek Sculptures Varvakeion Athena (200-250 AD) statuette, located at the National Archeological Museum of Athens in Athens, Greece; Photo by George E. Koronaios, cropped by Neoclassicism Enthusiast, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


This was a very brief glimpse into the lives of Grecian society and art. However, it is clear that, even in this short article societal norms had a significant impact on the art of the time. Even goddesses were expected to be modest and demure unless they were objects for male pleasure. If you found this article interesting, make sure to do some more reading as there are countless sources at your disposal.




Frequently Asked Questions


What Are Greek Statues of Women Called?

Greek statues featuring women are typically called kore, which means maiden. Statues of everyday women were created in the place of tombstones and Greek statues of women that functioned as pillars were called caryatids.


Why Were Only Greek Goddesses Sculpted Naked?

Although it was common to see Greek statues of nude men, the same cannot be said with regard to women. It was seen as completely inappropriate for earthly women to be depicted in the nude. Only female deities – and even then, only really Aphrodite – could be sculpted in the nude. Aphrodite’s nudity was intended to sexualize her, hence why other goddesses were almost always depicted with clothing.


Cite this Article

Emma, Littleton, “Female Greek Statues – Top Famous Greek Statues of Women.” Art in Context. November 15, 2022. URL: https://artincontext.org/female-greek-statues/

Littleton, E. (2022, 15 November). Female Greek Statues – Top Famous Greek Statues of Women. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/female-greek-statues/

Littleton, Emma. “Female Greek Statues – Top Famous Greek Statues of Women.” Art in Context, November 15, 2022. https://artincontext.org/female-greek-statues/.

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