Images of a naked female body were not a social norm in Greek art as it was for men. Female images were restricted to certain contexts, However, women were not disregarded. Powerful mythical females existed, who could be nurturing, virginal or seductive.
‘Torso’ expresses this aspect of Greek culture. The branch of sacred red coral is protection from suffering and disaster, and brings salvation, a remedy against all ills. Belief in the positive properties of coral has existed from the earliest civilizations; in water it is flexible, and once exposed to air it hardens. The branch of coral in this painting is exaggerated to obscure her breasts and her lower body is concealed by fabric, a plaque mounted at a discrete angle.
Her wings are a contradiction; feathers and bone support the weighty marble. Employing surrealism, the delicate feathers are drifting from the effort. A final detail is found in the upper corner; a wax reliquary seal, suspending a bit of cord attached to a tiny coral branch.
The imagery is ethereal with the permanence of marble made flesh.