Art of the Ancient Americas
Artist: Unknown

Standing Male Figure

900–400 B.C.

Jadeite with pigment

8.9 × 3.6 × 1.5 cm (3 1/2 × 1 7/16 × 9/16 in.)
Gift of Thomas T. Solley, B.A. 1950
Despite its small size, this standing male figurine carved of jadeite embodies many of the qualities of Olmec monumental art, in which hard stone is made to appear soft and pliable. The figure, wearing a small loincloth, stands with his legs apart and slightly bent. His arms, hanging down by his sides, are also slightly bent, in contrast to his stiff, straight torso. There is strong emphasis on the large head, flat and oval in shape with a curving bulge rising from the top. The face is carved in typically Olmec masklike style, with the characteristic downturned mouth, broad nose, and almond-shaped eyes. The facial features would have been accentuated with red pigment, which survives in small quantity on the figure.
or geography Mexico
On view
Mexico or Guatemala, Olmec
Middle Formative Period

Andre Emmerich, 1963-64; Thomas T. Solley (1924–2006), Bloomington, Ind., 1964–2002; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 192, 193 (detail), 384, pl. 177, ill.

Mary E. Miller, “Precolumbian Art of Mexico and Central America at the Yale University Art Gallery,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1995–96): 21, fig. 3.

Megan O’Neil, “Bone into Body, Manatee into Man,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2002): 95, fig. 4.

“Acquisitions 2002,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2003): 131, ill.

André Emmerich, Art Before Columbus: The Art of Ancient Mexico, from the Archaic Villages of the Second Millennium B.C. to the Splendor of the Aztecs (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963).

Michael D. Coe, The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership, exh. cat. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1995), figs. 1, 16, 19, 22 all similar.

Peter David Joralemon, A Study of Olmec Iconography (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1971).

Mary E. Miller, The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec, 5th ed. (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012), 41–3, fig. 32.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.