“Cruising the Dodecanese” is Peter Sommer Travels’ last scheduled cruise in Greece in 2017. This year, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a diary of sorts on our blog. Rather than describing every day in detail (you can check our itineraries on www.petersommer.com for that), every day we will pick one image we took that day, accompanied by some explanations and thoughts.
A week into our cruise of the Dodecanese, we were able to make the island of Kalymnos very memorable today – and we were helped by the Lady of Kalymnos. .
Yesterday, we showed the wild and romantic side of Kalymnos by staying in a cove for a long time. Today, we explored the town of Pothia, the second or third most populated settlement in the Dodecanese, a place that displays its former prosperity, which was based on sponge-diving, openly. Afterwards, we continued to Kos, including a long swimming break at Pserimos.
Our main visit today was the Archaeological Museum of Kalymnos, less than ten years old and representing the perfect mix of local archaeological expertise, regional museological genius and European funding. Kalymnos has a superb museum and no-one expects it there, even after a decade.
I have written about Kalymnos and its exceptional museum before on this blog, so here it will suffice to say that we showed our guests the best collection of Greek statues available in a small island, all from the sanctuary of Apollo Dalios in the middle of the island of Kalymnos, and offering a broad overview of the development of Greek sculpture.
The highlight of our visit was, as it always should be, the Lady of Kalymnos, a near-fully preserved over-life-sized bronze statue of a mature woman, retrieved from the surrounding waters some 23 years ago. She must be part of a shipwreck cargo and she is a first-rate piece, probably from the 3rd century BC (personally, I also consider the 4th). She represents a mature woman in a state of emotional turmoil. Maria and I think she is Demeter searching her daughter Persephone, as do others, but there is no final answer on that. What is clear is that she displays an extraordinary degree of bronze-casting skill in showing different textures between her skin, her hair, her overcoat and and her undergarment – the fringe of her woollen coat is the best thing I have seen in sculpture. The way her body and its tenseness show through her clothing is also exceptional.
The Lady of Kalymnos is worth a voyage every bit as much as the Delphi Charioteer, the Riace Bronzes, the Artemision Zeus – or the Mona Lisa!
As regards Greek art, there is nothing better than the Lady of Kalymnos: she is first-rate work. Let’s see what we find tomorrow.