The Venus of Brassempouy, 1909

  1. 35.  MacCurdy, George Grant (1863-1947).
    “Recent discoveries bearing on the antiquity of man in Europe.”  Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1909.  pp. 531-583.  Washington: GPO, 1910. 

In 1894, a French archaeologist, Edouard Piette (1827-1906), found a small figurine carved out of mammoth ivory in a cave at Brassempouy, France. It was only about one-and-a-half inches tall, and depicted the face of a woman wearing a head covering. This was only the third piece of Paleolithic sculpture depicting the human form ever found, and the first to show a face.  It is often referred to now as the Venus of Brassempouy, but at the time it was called the Dame à la Capuche (Lady with the hood).  She is one of the most appealing of Paleolithic carvings, with her Mona Lisa hint of a smile, which is an even better trick in this case, since she has no real mouth.   She was fashioned about 25,000 years ago.