Une sculpture paléolithique inédite : la silhouette féminine en bas-relief de Gouy (Seine-Maritime, France)


fr Comptes Rendus Palevol 6 (5) - Pages 345-358

Published on 31 August 2007

An unpublished Palaeolithic sculpture: the bas-relief female outline of Gouy (Seine-Maritime, France)

The subject of this note (a little depiction of a female body in left profile) belongs to the Palaeolithic cave of Gouy (Seine-Maritime). Executed in bas-relief (on limestone), it comprises pre-defined volumes comparable with the graphic conventions of figures of the Lalinde/Gönnersdorf type. Despite these convergences, the example from Gouy has no known equivalent at present, since this is the first time that the technique of bas-relief is encountered among these systematic silhouettes. The subject depicted is closely associated with a vertical cleft (that of a vulva), which forms the whole of its left edge. As analysis has progressed, various intentional traces have also been encountered and described, which are more or less comprehensible and slight; they only permit a few hypotheses. By revealing the presence of different vestiges (preserving shapes) that are truly carved in the cave's rock wall, the bas-relief highlights the use of sculpture in Gouy – this is a crucial fact – which only just escaped being totally unknown, because of the destruction of the front part of the cave. Together with the revelation of the variety of techniques used in Gouy, data have gradually been gathered together, which argue in favour of a frequentation of the cave over a long period. For the moment, there is no evidence enabling one to choose between the two probabilities of the bas-relief being either a ‘portable object’ or a ‘wall fragment’.


Palaeolithic art, Sculpture, Profile of the female body, Gouy, Chronology of art, France

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