Probably from an antefix, the protome is in the form of a frontally facing bust of a woman, with an archaic smile and almond-shaped eyes. Her hair is centrally parted with a high stephane and beaded style braids fall to her shoulders. Some traces of paint remaining.
Condition: The nose and lips are restored. There is surface wear throughout including some chipping to the edges where it may have been part of a larger piece. There are patches of polychrome remaining, chiefly on the hair.
American private collection, Kansas City, acquired at Galerie Simone de Monbrison, rue Bonaparte, Paris in October 1975
From Pliny the Elder we learn that in the 7th century BC, an exiled Corinthian merchant, Demaratus, introduced the fashioning of figures from baked earth, an art that was 'brought to perfection by Italy and especially by Etruria' (Naturalis Historia 35.45, 157).
This fragment is from an antefix. During the Archaic period, southern Etruria produced a large number of architectural terracottas (friezes, covering plaques, acroteria, and antefixes) designed to decorate sacred buildings. Antefixes had three functions: placed on the eaves of the roof, they concealed the ends of the convex tiles and protected them from bad weather; they were also part of the architectural decoration; finally, they had an apotropaic role, banishing bad luck and bad influences from temples. Made in moulds and painted, they usually took the form of a male or female face.
For further discussion see N.A. Winter, Symbols of Wealth and Power: Architectural Terracotta Decoration in Etruria and Central Italy, 640-510 B.C, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Supplementary Volume 9, 2009, University of Michigan Press.