With this 2nd edition of Crystal, Phoenix Ancient Art seeks to open the viewer’s eyes to works that are not only of great rarity and sig nificance, but that are also among the most beautiful creations from their respective cultures. Representing all corners of the ancient Western world from Mesopo tamia to Egypt, to Ancient Greece and Rome, and hailing from pres tigious collections such as those of Ernst Brummer, the Feuardent family, Charles Gillet, Charles Gillot and Dr. Wladimir Rosenbaum, this exclusive selection of works is a breathtaking illustration of what the height of artistic skill from the 5th Millennium B.C. to the 14th century A.D. could accomplish. Together, the pieces in this catalogue embody a level of artistry and refinement unmatched to this day.
Steatopygous Female Idol Aegean, Late Neolithic, ca. 5000-4000 B.C. Grey marble H: 12.7 cm
This statuette is carved from a beautiful gray marble. It is intact despite some chips; the front surface is polished and in near orig inal condition, while the back of the figurine is partially covered in encrustation, which suggests that the piece laid for a long time with its back buried in the earth. Contrary to other stone Neolithic figur ines, this example is well balanced and can even stand on its own: suggesting that this “idol” was probably sculpted for the express purpose of being positioned and seen vertically. This figure is an excellent and carefully executed example of a rare but recurring type in Aegean Neolithic marble art; the standing fe male with arms symmetricaly opposed. These types of “idols” with over-exaggerated female forms are usu ally referred to as steatopygic (in Greek, literally of large buttocks). The structure of the figurine is a surprising study in contrasts: the generous contours and the relatively large dimensions of the legs are balanced by the upper part of the body, which, despite a cer tain amount of stylization, is modeled more naturally and in a less exaggerated manner. The impression of abundance given off by this sculpture is expressed not only by its volumes but also by the groupings of rounded lines that characterize the silhouette and the anatomical details (oval face, shape of the biceps, stomach, line above the thighs, buttocks, etc.). The cylindrical neck supports an oval face with a soft, but still pointed, chin. The rectilinear nose is plastically indicated, while the mouth (a slight groove under the nose) and the horizontal eyes are incised. The ears are simply indicated by a line that follows the curve of the jaw. Above the face, a rectangular projection might be interpreted as a headdress, a small polos of sorts. The shoulders and the folded arms form a large, slightly raised rect angle with rounded edges, precursors to the design of the crossed arms on the Cycladic figurines of the Bronze Age. At the ends of the arms, a flat area marks the placement of the hands, which are clearly separated from one another; two very schematic horizon tal incisions mark the presence of fingers. The chest is covered by the bulging arm muscles — especially the biceps; the back of the torso is flat, but an incised line outlines the precise contours of the arms. 4
Below the waist, the female silhouette abruptly thickens to form many folds of fat around the abdomen, the buttocks and the tops
of the knees. The pubic area is delicately outlined by two triangular incisions and bordered by the prominent, rounded stomach; the navel is not shown. The structure of the legs differentiates between the buttocks and the thighs with a horizontal incision that also indicates the place ment of the knees. The line separating the left and right legs starts at the top of the pubic area and continues to the buttocks; at the tops of the knees, this line transforms into a deep groove that sepa rates the figure’s calves and ankles. The feet are simply two flat stumps, without any indication of toes. Although stylistically completely Neolithic in its design, this figurine exhibits a certain formal evolution compared to other statuettes from the same period 1: the many details of the face, the small polos and the well-modeled torso — even though it still retains the basic shape of an elongated rectangle — are elements that allow us to base the dating of this example to the final phase of the Neolithic Period, probably around the 5th Millennium. Seen straight on or from the back, the silhouette already seems to resemble the so-called Plastiras statuettes 2, a precursor to the famous Cycladic figurines with crossed arms from the 3rd Millennium. These types of statuettes, in both terracotta and stone, have been found in all the principal regions of the Greek world, both continen tal Greece and the islands (Macedonia, Thessaly, the Peloponnese, Attica, the Cyclades, Crete). Stylistically, the more elaborate treat ment of the head (anatomical details, polos) may hint at a more specific place of origin for this “idol”: it is particularly in Thessaly in central Greece, that such details are a typical feature of Neolithic sculpture 3. Anthropomorphic figurines are among the best known and most ap preciated creations of Neolithic Greece: they were most often made in terracotta, while the stone (marble) or shell examples were much rarer and probably came a bit later. Their size ranges between 10 and 15 cm, although they can sometimes reach very large dimen sions. Although statuettes of men and animals exist, the female figurines are clearly the most well known. They can have widely varied poses (standing, seated on the ground, on a chair, holding an infant in their arms, etc.), but they are largely dominated by two positions: standing or seated with the arms crossed. The represen tations reflect two artistic tendencies that coexisted throughout the Neolithic: a more naturalistic style (cf. this statuette) and a more schematic one with cursory limbs and without anatomical details (cf. for example the figurines shaped like violins) 4.
Their significance is a subject that is still debated today; archaeo logically, the Neolithic figurines come almost exclusively from in habited sites and not from cemeteries: therefore, one can exclude a funerary use. The places where they have been found are most often related to the production of different types of objects (“work shops” of jewelers, potters, toolmakers, weavers) or to the preser vation and preparation of foodstuffs (storage lofts, ovens). Based on these clues, the tendency today is to place these figurines in relation to ritual and magic (e.g. protection for the food) or to the transmission of scientific knowledge and skill from one workshop to another. It is also possible that these statuettes and models were meant as toys for infants, serving an educational purpose but pos sibly also one of initiation. One of the most popular theories suggests a religious significance: they are thought to represent the Great Mother Goddess, who, dur ing the Prehistoric Period, was a pivotal mythological figure. She was the protector of human fertility and the fecundity of the herds and fields; this figure was worshipped over a vast and wildly varied geographic area, from the Near East to Central and Western Eu rope. The exaggeration of the figurines’ sexual characteristics and their voluptuousness of form are the best argument in favor of this hypothesis 5.
Provenance Ex-American private collection, New York, USA.
Among the closest parallels, one can point out GETZ-GENTLE P., Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture, Madison, 2001, pp. 1-6, p. 173, pl. 1, a1-3; GETZ-PREZIOSI P. (ed.), Early Cycladic Art in North American Collections, Richmond, 1987, p. 126, n. 1; PAPATHANASSOPOULOS G. (ed.), Neolithic Culture in Greece, Athens, 1996, p. 311, n. 230 and p. 318, n. 239; THIMME J. (ed.), Art and Culture of the Cyclades, Karl sruhe, 1977, n. 3; n. 9-10; n. 12.
THIMME J. (ed.), op. cit., note (1), nn. 75ss.
GIMBUTAS M. et al., Achilleion, A Neolithic Settlement in Thessaly, Greece, Los Angeles, 1989, pl. 348, 356-359; PAPATHANASSOPOULOS G. (ed.), op. cit., note (1), pp. 153-154, pl. 298-313.
On the different types of figurines, see PAPATHANASSOPOULOS G. (ed.), op. cit. note (1), pp. 293-323 and on the animals pp. 324-326 and VON BOTHMER D. (ed.), Glories of the Past, Ancient Art from the S. White and L. Levy Collection, New York, 1990, pp. 3-5, n. 1 and pp.13-15, n. 8e.
On Neolithic Greek figurines and their significance, see MARANGOU C., Figurines and Models in PAPATHANASSOPOULOS G. (ed.), op. cit. note (1), pp. 146-151 (with bibliography); WEINBERS S.S., Anthropomorphic Stone Figurines from Neolithic Greece in THIMME J. (ed.), op. cit., note (1), pp. 52-58. On the Great Mother Goddess, see the back of LIGABUE G. - ROSSI-OSMIDA G. (ed.), Dea Madre, Milan, 2007.
Large Male Cycladic Figure of Plastiras Type Greek, Cycladic, Early Bronze Age/Early Cycladic II, ca. 3000 – 2800 B.C. Island marble H: 29.2 cm
This extraordinary male marble figure is among the very finest exam ples of a Plastiras-type “idol” known. He is virtually intact except for the penis, which was added, and depicted standing with his hands resting on his abdomen just under the chest. Great attention was paid to the anatomical details which are carved with precision and nuance: grooved toes, prominent ankles, powerful muscular legs, angular shoulders, clearly indicated collar bones, long tapering neck and deeply grooved spine. His head is well modeled and expressive with a pointed chin, straight full lipped mouth, triangular nose, deep set lozenge shaped eyes, small semicircular ears and a high rounded forehead. Numerous traces of red pigment arranged in a geometric pattern of lines about the face and on the neck are still visible. Plastiras-type images are related to, yet very different from both the marble figures made in the Aegean in the Late Neolithic period (ca.5000-3500 B.C.) and from those that followed (after a brief transitional phase) in the Early Bronze II period (2700-2200 B.C.). The Early Bronze Age/Early Cycladic II (ca. 3000-2800 B.C.) Plasti ras image is the first one that can be associated exclusively with the Cyclades. To date, no examples are known to have been found outside this archipelago at the center of the Aegean Sea, although it must be said that very few have been recovered in the course of systematic excavation. Those few have been found in graves on Naxos and Paros, where the majority of Plastiras figures appear to have been made, and at Akrotiri on Santorini. To anyone familiar only with the much better known and, to us at least, iconic reclining folded-arm figures that came later, the Plastiras type can seem bizarre. Carvers of such images retained and refined cer tain Neolithic features, such as the elongated neck and the position of the arms, in which the hands meet on the belly. These features are not likely to have been inherited directly from the old stone carving tradition, but rather through a tradition of woodworking. Carvings of wood, presumably whittled from tree branches, would also have influenced the Plastiras figure’s stiff stance and slender profile. This was in distinct contrast to the exaggerated corpulence that was the defining feature of the rare Late Neolithic stone figures, all of which are representations of a sitting or standing female being 1, found in various places throughout the Aegean, including the Cyclades, where a headless sitting example was recovered in the British excavations on Saliagos off Antiparos. 10
The Plastiras type, apart from its standing posture 2, elongated neck, and opposed arms, is noteworthy for a curious combination of un natural proportions and acutely observed anatomical forms and
details. The latter were most dramatically indicated by means of a handheld awl as well as by incision. Complete examples of the type, which vary from less than 10 cm to slightly more than 30 cm, were, of all the single standing and reclining Cycladic images, the most labor-intensive. The legs, for example, were carved separately from the crotch down. This was something quite new: a naturalistic division that made pos sible the three-dimensional rendering of the legs while inadvertently intensifying the risk factor, with the result that, after considerable effort on the part of the carver, the legs were afterwards susceptible to breakage. The same was true for the elongated head/neck. Only twenty-four of the forty-four Plastiras figures now known have sur vived in a complete or, in a few cases, intact state. Of those with all major parts still present, four had been repaired, most probably by the carvers who had made them, using the age-old method of boring holes on either side of a fracture and tying the two parts together, probably with a wet leather thong (or, in one unpublished case, with lead strips). In the case of the fragmentary Plastiras images, another seven show that they were once repaired in the same way, but the part or parts that had been reattached are missing. Those seven fragments together show a total of 11 repairs, with one example showing three – at the neck and both legs (see below). Among Cycladic figure-carving styles, the Plastiras is the most com plex, its examples few – especially complete ones – in contrast to the relatively vast number of classic folded-arm figures known. Of the twenty-four complete works, only eight exceed 20 cm in height, and only about half, along with some of the fragments, are of more than archaeological interest – their surfaces well preserved, their forms inviting aesthetic appreciation. These facts alone make the striking, beautifully preserved, virtually intact figure shown here a rare and important piece. Unusually tall and less exaggerated than usual in its proportions, its design and workmanship are superior. Whereas the front and clear details, the surface is in nearly pristine condition, with crisp and clear the rear is encrusted with mineral deposits, indicating that for millennia the image lay on its back in a grave, where conditions were damp during much of the Cycladic year. The sculptor made ample use of the boring tool mentioned above – for holes to receive inlaid eyeballs, for hollowing the ears, and for indentations at the bend of the elbows. The last were possibly intended to be full perforations but were abandoned as being too
risky because of their placement. The most intriguing use of the awl, in contemporary terms, is the relatively deep boring meant, it would seem, either to receive a replacement for an original penis carved of a piece with the figure, or – less likely – to convert an originally female representation into a male 3. Either way, the work would have been regarded as a male at least at some point during its “life”. With its masculine face, broad shoulders, small breasts and narrow hips, it certainly looks as if the figure was conceived as a male from the start. And yet, in the absence of any female figures by the sculptor, what appears obvious to us may not be correct. There is a certain androgynous quality in Cycladic sculpture, and the anatomical dif ferences between male and female figures carved by one sculptor can be quite subtle, apart from primary sexual characteristics. That the sculptor did carve at least one other male figure has been rec ognized 4. This is the fragmentary work mentioned above as having once had both legs and the head/neck reattached. Inexplicably, male representations among Plastiras figures account for a quarter of the known examples of the type. This percentage is far greater than that of comparably passive males made at any other time during the roughly 800 years in which marble images were produced in the Early Bronze Age Cyclades 5. Nevertheless, since Plastiras figures appear to have been made in far fewer numbers than later works and are themselves therefore not often found, male examples of the type are still exceptional. At present count there are seven complete and intact male figures, of which only two are tall by the standards of the type: the figure presented here and a figure in the National Archaeological Muse um in Athens, attributed to a carver known as the Athens Museum Sculptor 6. As it happens, these two works are also among the most detailed of the Plastiras images, and they exhibit some of the same features, such as originally inlaid eyeballs (one of which survives on the Athens figure), naturalistically indicated collarbones at pres ent unique to the work of these two sculptors, at least the idea of arms separated from the torso (cleverly brought to completion on the Athens piece), and the naturalistic manner in which the legs are rendered.
There are also interesting differences. The Athens Museum Sculp tor used the common method of indicating the eyes on his figures (male and female) with simple dark round stone inlays, whereas the sculptor of the work in the present exhibition made the sockets almond-shaped and thus quite human-looking. The same is true of the more sensitive rendering of the mouth. On the Athens Museum
Sculptor name-piece the mouth is absent, but a straight incision on two of his other works shows that that was his very simple way of showing the mouth. Finally, the work featured here is the only Plastiras figure presently known with red-painted patterns on the face and neck 7. The two sculptors were clearly related in some way, but the less well-known carver of the piece shown here is likely to have been the younger of the two. His work is both the more advanced and, in its proportions, the more forward-looking. Arguing against the idea that a single sculptor was involved and that the present piece was produced in one of his more mature phases, is the fact that the Athens Museum Sculptor also carved the largest of all Plastiras figures known - a piece twice the size of any other, in the BarbierMueller Museum in Geneva. Of that image only the head survives 8. One would expect such an ambitious work to have been produced in its sculptor’s full maturity. Yet, judging by the head with its thin mouth line, it was not as advanced or as skillfully humanized as the handsome image that is the subject of attention here. This fig ure, one feels, must have been carved at the acme of its highly skilled maker’s powers which strongly suggests that our anonymous carver was a different person. He must have made a number of other figures, besides the fragmentary one mentioned, leading up to his masterwork. Sooner or later, more pieces are likely to surface, pre sumably including others of equal caliber; it would be most helpful if they were found in the context of archaeological excavations. Such pieces might include female Plastiras images, and even a Violin idol or two that could, in the appropriate context be recog nized as his work 9.
Provenance Ex-Dr. Wladimir Rosenbaum, Galleria Casa Serodine, Ascona, acquired by him from a private collection in Germany in the late 1960’s. Ex-Swiss private collection, acquired from Galleria Casa Serodine in 1972-73.
Published in: THIMME J., (ed.), Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr., catalogue of the exhibition at the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, June 25th – October 10th, 1975, Karlsruhe, 1976, no. 72, p. 206, pl. VI, p. 233 and p. 438. THIMME J., (ed.), Art and Culture of the Cyclades in the Third Millennium B.C., Chicago, 1977, no. 72, p. 204, pl. VI, p. 233 and pp. 438 -440. GETZ-PREZIOSI P., Sculptors of the Cyclades: Individual and Tradition in the Third Millennium B.C., Ann Arbor, 1987, pp. 20; 23; 37, fig. 15b; 53 and 245, pl. 1B. GETZ-PREZIOSI P., “The Male Figure in Early Cycladic Sculpture.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 15, 1980, p. 31, no. 4, figs. 1.4 and 4-5. GETZ-PREZIOSI P., Early Cycladic Art in North American Collections, Rich mond, 1987, p. 53, fig. 24b. SOTIRAKOPOULOU P., “The Early Bronze Age Stone Figurines from Akrotiri on Thera and Their Significance for the Early Bronze Age Settlement.” Annual of the British School at Athens 93, 1998, p. 133, note 153. GETZ-GENTLE P., Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture, Madison, 2001, p. 132, notes 14 – 15 and p. 134, note 43. HOFFMAN, GAIL L., “Painted Ladies: Early Cycladic II Mourning Figures?,” American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 106/4, 2002, p. 527, note 17.
Notes 1 E.g., THIMME J., (gen. ed.), Art and Culture of the Cyclades in the Third Millennium B.C., Chicago, 1977, nos. 1-3, 12. A white marble standing male figure found on Crete has been dated to the Early Neolithic period. Ibid., fig. 30 on p. 53. Plastiras figures tend to have small, rather dainty feet, and are unable to stand on their own.
There are rare precedents for such conversions, but only on later figures where the penis was added in false relief, not with an attachment.
See GETZ-GENTLE P., Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture, Madi son, 2001, p. 134, note 43.
Excluded from the statistics are male figures shown actively engaged as musicians, cupbearers, or accoutered as hunters or warriors, all carved in the Early Cycladic II period.
On the Athens Museum Sculptor, see: GETZ-PREZIOSI P., “An Early Cycladic Sculptor.” Antike Kunst 18, 1975, 47-50 with pls. 17-19.1-3; GETZ-PREZI OSI P., Sculptors of the Cyclades: Individual and Tradition in the Third Millennium B.C., Ann Arbor, 1987, pp. 78-82 with pls. 18-20. The namepiece is the only complete work of the sculptor now known.
The decoration consists of a stripe on each side of the nose, with two more or less parallel stripes on the right cheek, three on the left, and four horizontal stripes on the right side of the neck.
See illustration cited in note 6 above.
Carvers of Plastiras figures tended to make both male and female images as well as violin-shaped ones that are a schematic version of the sitting female. A violin figure found in excavations at Akrotiri on Naxos has red mark ings on the lower neck similar to those on the male Plastiras figure. See HENDRIX E. A., “The Paint Motifs on Early Cycladic Figures,” UMI Disserta tion Services, Ann Arbor, 2000, no. 1. That is not to imply that the violin idol was made by the same sculptor. However, the two works are the only Early Cycladic I examples with actual remains of paint cited by Hendrix. For additional information on the Plastiras type, see: DOUMAS C. Early Bronze Age Burial Habits in the Cyclades. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology, vol. 48. Göeteborg, 1977; GETZ-PREZIOSI P. “The Hunter/ Warrior Figure in Early Cycladic Marble Sculpture.” in J. L. DAVIS and J. F. CHERRY (eds.), Papers in Cycladic Prehistory, Monograph XIV, Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1979, pp. 87-96; GETZ-PREZIOSI P. “Risk and Repair in Early Cycladic Sculpture.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 16, 1981, pp. 5-32, GETZ-GENTLE, P “L’art du marbre dans les Cyclades préhistoriques.” L. MATTET, (ed.), Le profane et le divin: Arts de l’Antiquitès de l’Europe au Sud-Est asiatique. Fleurons du musée Barbier-Mueller, Barbier-Mueller Museum, 2008, pp. 30-37, 254-271 and 482-48 and TSOUNTAS, C. “Kykladika I.” Archaiologike Ephemeris, 1898, cols. 137-212.
Statuette of a Worshipper Sumerian, Early Dynastic II, ca. 2700-2500 B.C. Alabaster H: 31.8 cm
Carved from a block of alabaster, the figure is composed of three el ements: the body, the head (sculpted separately, it was inserted into the small opening piercing the center of the square depression) and the feet (probably made from a single tenon along with the base, then inserted into the deep rectangular hole on the underside). On the right side, toward the bottom of the skirt, one finds a circular hole that seems to connect with the opening for the feet. The head, the feet and the elbows have not survived; whereas the torso and a fragment of the back of the kaunakes are reattached. Generally speaking, the posture of this figure corresponds to that of the “worshipper(s)” (adorant in French, Beter in German), one of the oldest and most celebrated types in all of Mesopotamian sculpture. The function of these effigies, which were deposited in sanctuaries, was to guarantee a constant praying presence before the god and to express this devotion permanently, as if they were blessed with the power of speech 1. The man is standing, his torso nude, with his arms bent and folded over his chest and hands clasped with the right encircling the left. He does not seem to have had a beard, and the absence of tresses on the back seems to indicate that he was bald. The legs are com pletely hidden under a long skirt (the kaunakes, Sumerian ceremo nial garment par excellence), cinched by a belt that resembles a thick roll. Towards the top, the surface of the kaunakes is covered by an inscription, while the bottom has pointed fringe that hangs down like inverted cones. The spaces between the points are carved in the shape of tongues. The torso is rounded with the muscles of the chest carved with an eye for anatomical correctness; the arms, which are the embodiment of force, bulge with muscles, the shoulders are well rounded and the spinal column is indicated by a deep groove. Stylistically and typologically, this statuette is closer to the famous figures from the Square Temple of Tell Asmar (ancient Eshnunna, Diyala Valley). They are characterized by linear geometric forms: the skirt is carved like the trunk of a cone, the bust is angular and the arms and shoulders form a rectangle with pointed elbows, and the legs are short and stiff, etc. The kaunakes is smooth and bordered with pointed fringe, which only decorates the lower part of the skirt, while the rest of the garment is smooth 2.
The representation, as well as the realistic and natural modeling, became secondary to the iconographic scheme, which was widely known throughout the Mesopotamian world; from as far to the north as the Euphrates River Valley (at Tell Khuera) and to the south just
until Nippur, where a bald unbearded male statuette was found dressed in a smooth fringed kaunakes with a large belt 3. Although there are typological similarities, it is necessary to point out some differences between the Tell Asmar figurines and our piece, which is more accomplished and nuanced: the frontal view is cer tainly the most important, but one should not forget to mention the natural volumes of the profile as well as the excellent modeling of the chest, the back and the arms. Also, the design of the fringe on the kaunakes, which is exceptionally well modeled in relief, is much more evolved than the simple lance-shaped incisions often seen on many other figures. The presence of the long inscription makes this example distinctive and exceptional, even though the inscription does not seem to make grammatical sense. The text engraved on “worshipper” statuettes, which is generally very short, indicates the name of the donor and that of the divinity receiving the offering. It is most often incised on the shoulders or the shoulder blades of the figure, while examples of inscriptions on the kaunakes are extremely few in number 4.
Provenance Ex-N. Koutoulakis collection, Geneva-Paris. Ex-Charles Gillet collection, Lausanne, ca. 1960. Ex-American private collection.
Notes 1 cf. the text inscribed on statue B of Gudea, where Gudea asks his statue to speak to the king (the god Ningirsu) in his name, see LAMBERT M. - TOURNAY R., La statue B de Gudéa, in Revue d’Assyriologie XIV, 1951, p. 61. On “worshipper” figures in general, see BRAUN-HOLZINGER E.A., Frühdynastische Beterstatuetten, Berlin, 1977; on Tell Asmar: FRANKFORT H., Sculpture of the Third Millennium from Tell Asmar and Khafajah OIP 44, Chicago,1943, pp 13-16, pl. 1-6.
For Tell Khuera see MOORTGAT A., Tell Chuera in Nordost-Syrien. Bericht über die vierte Grabungskampagne 1963, Berlin, 1965, pp. 23-37, fig. 12-28; Vorläufiger Bericht über die fünfte Grabungskampagne 1964, Ber lin, 1967, pp. 14-21, fig. 11-15. For the Nippur statuette see PARROT A., Sumer, Paris, 2008, p. 136, fig. 117.
SPICKET A., La statuaire du Proche-Orient ancien, Leiden-Cologne, 1981, pp. 70-71.
Amulet Representing a Young Bull Western Asiatic, Bactrian, late 3rd – early 2nd Millennium B.C. Solid gold and a pink cornaline with reddish-brown or an agate H: 3.5 cm, L: 5.5 cm
This figurine, modeled in solid gold but hollowed out in the center for placement of an inlay, is intact; only the stone (a pink cornaline with reddish-brown veins or an agate?) has cracked 1. A long hammered cylinder on a rectangular plate soldered horizontally to the back of the body would have been used to suspend the animal from a sup port, now lost, the nature of which is unknown (perhaps it was used as an amulet, an appliqué for a piece of furniture, an ornament for clothing or for a belt, etc). Certain parts of the body (the tail, the feet) would have been made separately and then soldered to the statuette. Despite the fact that the feet and hooves were perfectly fashioned – even on the bottom where they come into contact with the ground – this appliqué cannot stand on its own. The animal represented is a young bull whose horns are short and only slightly developed. The wide spread stance of the feet indicates that he is galloping to the left; at the same time, he turns his head to his left, directing his gaze at the viewer. This piece was certainly designed to be seen from the left side where the nearly rectangular stone is inlaid; however, the modeling and the volumes are well sculpted on the back of the body as well, which is hidden from view. On the other hand, the body of the young bull is surprisingly lacking in thickness: when seen from the front or the back, it seems almost flat; the two pairs of feet, both front and back, were soldered together. Despite the statuette’s miniature size, the bull is extremely well craft ed and precise in its execution: the proportions, pose and general rendering of the anatomy prove that the jeweler who worked on this pendentif knew his subject perfectly and that his level of technical mastery was at its apex. The body is well-rounded with solid strong bone structure, the folds of skin on the neck are in relief, the legs are stocky and muscular and the genitals are fully developed. The anatomical details of the head (eyes, nose, muzzle, ears and horns) such as the skin between the horns, rendered as a series of in cised undulating lines, are modeled in a realistic manner. Even the rendering of the legs is remarkable with well-formed knees, cloven hooves and rounded rear digits. The tail, the tuft of which is full and finely incised, forms a loop that curls itself above and around the hindquarters.
Within the framework of the Ancient Bactrian civilization (modernday Afghanistan), a very similar technique of working in precious metals (solid gold or silver, especially with semi-precious stone inlay) was used during the Bronze Age between the late 3rd and
early 2nd Millennium B.C. for the creation of objects as varied as animal statuettes, jewels and even ceremonial arms, very few ex amples of which exist today 2. In spite of certain stylistic differences, this small bull can be compared to two silver gilt axes with animals represented balancing on two legs (boars, panthers, dogs), which, considering the materials used and the level of artistic quality, would certainly have functioned as gifts between dignitaries or as ritual axes. In particular, one can compare the structure of the bodies, which lack thickness, even while including every detail, such as the outstretched legs of the panthers attacking the boars (see espe cially the example in the collection of G. Ortiz) and the rendering of certain elements such as the ears or the folds of skin 3.
Provenance Ex-private collection.
Notes The use of colored cornalines of similar shape and size can be seen in Bactrian gems from the prehistoric period: LIGABUE G. - SALVATORI S. (ed.), Bactria: An Ancient Oasis Civilisation from the Sands of Afghanistan, Venice, 1988, p. 184, p. 208, n. 70-71.
LIGABUE G. - SALVATORI S. (ed.), op. cit. note (1), pp. 192-193, p. 195, n. 42 (a small group in gold with two wolves attacking a mouflon), n. 44-46 (two tigers or panthers in chlorite and gold with semi-precious stone inlays imitating the pelt of the cat); Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, New York, 2003, n. 249, p. 356.
The two silver gilt axes in: Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, New York, 2003, n. 264, pp. 373374 (the same in PITTMAN H., Art of the Bronze Age: Southeastern Iran, Western Asia and the Indus Valley, New York, 1984, pp. 76-77, n. 36). In Pursuit of the Absolute: Art of the Ancient World, Bern, 1994, n. 14bis. For other axes of the same type, although in bronze, see: LIGABUE G.- SALVATORI S. (ed.), op. cit. note (1), pp. n. 95-97, pp. 227-228. On the use and classification of these axes, see: AMIET P., L’âge des échanges in ter-iranies, 3500-1700 av. J.-C., Paris, 1987, pp. 196-197, fig. 166-173.
Mask of a God or Dignitary Egyptian, 21st – 22nd Dynasty, ca. 1069-715 B.C. Bronze, stucco, glass paste and gilding H: 15.5 cm
The head is complete: many fragments of gold leaf, which had been applied to a thin layer of stucco that covered the face, are preserved on the ears, the neck and on the right side of the jaw. The beard, the eyes and the brows would have been inlaid into hollowed beds specifically created for just that purpose; the completely preserved left brow is made of blue glass paste in imitation of lapis lazuli. The mask, the interior of which is hollowed out, was cast as a single piece including the front of the neck and the ears. Two tenons, one of which is an arched rectangular projection pierced by a rectangular opening at forehead level; and the other, which is long and cylindri cal and placed in the back at the base of the neck, were used to fix the face to its original support and to attach a headdress, the exact style of which it is impossible to determine (a nemes headdress or a crown?). Despite the irregular granular surface of the bronze (its condition corresponds to that of many other bronzes from the same period, ones that had certainly suffered from humid conditions in their place of interment over the centuries), the head preserves its se rene, calm expression and is a remarkable illustration of the artistic and technical level that Egyptian artisans were capable of during the 1st Millennium B.C. This head, which measures just under half life size, depicts the face of a man sporting a thin beard that followed the curve of his jaw: a long thin ceremonial false beard, which would have been made separately, would have been inserted into the hole pierced in his chin. Almond-shaped eyes, elongated by cosmetic lines to the temples, a small pointed nose with prominent nostrils and a small full lipped mouth, its expression fixed in a gentle “smile”, characterize the perfectly oval face. The ears, pushed slightly forward to allow room for the hair, are perfectly modeled. The forehead, truncated by a horizontal cut, would have been nearly completely hidden by the coiffure. The modeling of the facial muscles displays infinite finesse, with slight sculptural nuances designating the apples of the cheeks, the sides of the face, the forehead and the chin. At the same time, the face, which displays youthful, strongly idealized features, does not reveal any individualized traits or indicators of expression. 26
This head would certainly have been part of a composite polychrome statue whose various elements would have been made separately
and assembled using a technique that was widely used in the Near Eastern world from the Bronze Age onward. It is impossible to pre cisely identify of the person represented, but the use of precious materials such as gold and bronze, the blue color of the brows (the color of gods and pharaohs), as well as the artistic quality of the sculpture certainly leads us to think that this could be a divine (per haps a cult figure) or royal image. The precise execution and the level of quality have clear parallels to rare examples of metal masks from the 21st or 22nd Dynasties, a period to which this piece also seems to belong. In particular, one recalls the famous gold funerary masks discovered at Tanis by P. Montet: those of kings Psousennes, Amenemope and Sheshonk II and of general Oundebaounded. These gold leaf masks were placed directly on the mummy and were never part of a statue. Neverthe less, the original effect of this head could not have been far re moved from the grave and solemn appearance that characterizes the figures from Tanis 1. In fact, in all of these faces, one can see the same sweet, nuanced model with its idealized and slightly imper sonal features. When compared to the most famous gold funerary masks, those of Tutankhamun 2, the craftsmanship of this figure, though slightly less vigorous and original, is of equal quality. In general, the Egyp tian artisans of the Third Intermediate Period, while having attained excellent levels of technical accomplishment, are slightly weaker in terms of creative force. Metalsmiths (especially bronzesmiths and goldsmiths), however, continued to advance, as seen in numerous jewels and some royal or divine statuettes 3. Very few bronze masks that appear to have been part of compos ite statues exist that display the same technical and typological scheme of this head: hollowed out with the ears and part of the neck attached to the face; a beard lining the jaw and a hole in the chin for the false beard; inlaid eyes and brows, etc. Although they are much smaller than our head (the largest do not exceed 9.5 cm in height), these masks prove that Egyptian art from this period had not lost its level of aesthetic and technical quality, even if it does have a certain repetitive, formal air 4.
Provenance Ex-Swiss private collection. Ex-American private collection.
Exhibited Aegypten, Augenblicke der Ewigkeit, Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, 18 March - 13 July 1997; Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Genève (Musée Rath), 25 September 1997 - 11 January 1998.
Published in: Egypte, Moments d’éternité, Mayence/Rhin, 1997, pp. 203-204, n. 131.
Notes On funerary masks from the Third Intermediate Period, see MONTET P., Fouilles de Tanis II, Les constructions et le tombeau de Psousennès à Tanis, Paris, 1951, p. 40, n. 214, pl. 21-22; p. 73, n. 687, pl. 47-48. Tanis, L’or des Pharaons, Paris, 1987, pp. 270-272. DONADONI ROVERI A. M., The Funerary Equipment in ZIEGLER C. (ed.), The Pharaohs, Milan, 2002, pp. 327-341.
TIRADRITTI F. (ed.), The Cairo Museum, Masterpieces of Egyptian Art, London, 1998, pp. 234-235.
On the goldwork of the Third Intermediate Period, see ZIEGLER C., Les arts du métal à la Troisième Période Intermédiaire in Tanis, L’or des Pharaons, Paris, 1987, pp. 85-101.
Ancient Bronzes, a Selection from the Heckett Collection, Pittsburgh, 1965, n. 36; Antiquities from the Collection of C.G. Bastis, New York, 1987, pp. 33-34, n. 9; Egypte, Moments d’éternité, Geneva, 1997, pp. 203-205, n. 132; Sotheby’s Antiquities, New York, December 11, 2002, n. 102; STEINDORFF G., Catalogue of the Egyptian Sculpture in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1946, p. 120, n. 485, pl. 77.
Bust of a Nursing Goddess Egyptian, 25th Dynasty, ca. 750-650 B.C. Marble H: 26.1 cm
The statuette, preserved just to the waist, is sculpted in a magnifi cent variegated stone containing veins and pockets of blue-green color, which are clearly visible against the beige surface patina: scientific analysis has revealed that the stone is none other than marble 1. Egyptian sculpture in marble are extremely rare. This woman is characterized by rounded volumes that translate as voluptuousness: the nearly moon-shaped face is accentuated by the design of the hairstyle, which completely surrounds the head like a sphere; even the tips of the tresses are sculpted into volutes. This femine softness of design is also found in the smooth contours of the shoulders and especially in the generous modeling of the full breasts.
The posture of the mother nursing her child is typical of Hathor and Isis, two important figures from Egyptian mythology: in the absence of an inscription or other attributes such as the Throne of Isis or the headdress of Hathor with sun disk and horns, it is often impossible to determine whether it is one of the two goddesses or simply a propitiatory ex-voto of thanks after the birth of an infant. Modeled in bronze or faience, and often of small dimensions, repre sentations of Isis lactans or of Hathor with child were very popular, for these two goddesses were associated with knowledge and with cults of fertility and fecundity as well as childbirth. Larger stone statues from this group are much more rare 3.
Her face, young but idealized, reveals no wrinkles: the modeling consists of large surfaces that are finely nuanced but flat, without muscular tension. The rather singular features of the face resemble images of African women: large skull and chin; round cheeks; small almond shaped eyes with heavy eyelids; straight, prominent nose that is flattened at the edges; and full sensual lips with sinuous contours. The horizontal axes of the bangs, the line of the eyes, the mouth and the chin accentuate the frontal nature of the statuette. The hairstyle, a tripartite Hathor-type wig, was widely known through out Egypt during the Middle Kingdom 2. It is positioned on the head as a large, very even, uniform mass (seen from the back, the contours of the hair almost create a perfect circle) parted into two tresses that fall to the chest and an even longer triangular tail that ends in a spiral and covers the center of the back. The mass of hair completely surrounds the face but leaves the ears free. Not a single strand is in cised; the only decoration being the natural striations of the stone. The statue represents a smaller than life size female figure: the wom an, who would certainly have been dressed in a tight-fitting robe, traces of which can no longer be seen, was seated propped up by a back pillar that touched the spiral curve of the hair. In accordance with the well-known Egyptian iconography of nursing goddesses, she holds the extended fingers of her right hand under her left breast, offering it to an infant figure (now lost) that she would have held on her knees with her left hand placed at the nape of its neck.
The religious significance of nursing as the act of granting life was known in Egypt during the Old Kingdom (Texts of the Pyramids), but three-dimensional representations of the mother offering her breast are particularly associated with the Third Intermediate Period and were widespread only at the end of the Late Period.
In earlier publications, this piece was assigned to a very early period during the 12th Dynasty namely because of the Hathor wig with the spiral curls, but this analysis is about to be revised here. It is the Nubian features of this woman that supply the principal argument for a much later chronology during the 25th Dynasty: af ter the troubled times of the Third Intermediate Period, a king from the south, the Nubian Piankhy (the proper founder of the dynasty), annexed Egypt onto his lands and reestablished a level of political stability throughout the land. Under the rule of this dynasty, named “Kushite”, Egyptian art experienced a renewal of the traditions and ideals of its past glory, and revisited and adapted the artistic canons of the Old and Middle Kingdoms 4. To the “classicizing” but some what stereotyped elements that were reprised, the artisans of this period added a roundness of form and a certain realism to private statuary. This is seen, for example, in the presence of ethnic touches borrowed from the Nubian conquerors (generous thighs, full lips, flattened noses, large heavy faces, etc.), that are very clearly seen in the face of this woman as well as in many other statuettes from the 25th Dynasty 5.
Provenance Joseph Brummer Gallery, New York, 1945. Ex-A. Conger Goodyear, Buffalo, New York. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.
Published in: RITCHIE A. C. (ed.), Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Catalogue of the Paintings and the Sculpture in the Permanent Collection, Buffalo, New York, 1949, p. 212, n. 223. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Gifts to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery from A. Conger Goodyear, Buffalo, New York, 1962, n. 17. NASH S. A. et al., Albright-Knox Art Gallery: Painting and the Sculpture from Antiquity to 1942, Buffalo, New York, 1979, p. 71. ERTMAN E. L., Documentation of Minor Collections in the United States in REINECKE W.F., Acts: First international Congress of Egyptology, Cairo, October 2-12, 1976, Berlin, 1979, pp. 212-213. MALEK J. et al., Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, Vol. VIII: Objects of Provenance not Known, Part I: Royal Statues. Private Statues (Predynastic to Dynasty XVII), Oxford, 1999, p. 471, n. 801-495-980.
Notes Spectrum analysis by Raman probe was completed in the laboratory of Geneva Museum of Natural History. The greenish color of certain parts came from the burial of the statuette (from the exchange and from the chemical reaction with the ground, the green tint could correspond to an absorption of copper hydroxide).
VANDIER J., Manuel d’archéologie égyptienne, Tome III, Les grandes époques, La statuaire, Paris, 1958, pp. 257-258.
Cf. for example the large statue of Isis in the Louvre: ROEDER G., Eine Statue der saugenden Isis von Shepenupt dans Mélanges Maspéro, I, Orient Ancien, 2 (MIFAO 66), Cairo, 1935, pl. 1; see also Reflets du divin, Antiquités pharaoniques et classiques d’une collection privée, p. 107, n. 94.
On the sculpture of this period, see for example LECLANT J., L’Egypte du crépuscule, Paris, 1980, pp. 123-142.
Egypte, Moments d’éternité, Mayence/Rhin, 1997, pp. 225-228, n. 148-149 ; La femme dans l’Egypte des Pharaons, Mayence/Rhin, 1986, pp. 56-57, n. 22.
Amphora with Figural Handles Greek, Archaic period, ca. 540-520 B.C. Bronze H: 38.1 cm
The amphora is in an excellent state of preservation, despite some restoration on the neck and the lower part of the body. The carefully cleaned, dark brown surface of the metal is partially covered in a pretty green patina. The low relief decoration is of a richness and complexity rarely seen during the Archaic period, even on the most famous metal vessels. To this day, no comparable Archaic bronze amphora from continental Greece is known. Judging from the substantial weight of the vase, the walls of which are very thick, the absence of hammer marks or evidence of latheturning and the precision and symmetry of the decoration, this vase was probably cast rather than cold-worked by hammering a sheet of bronze. It consists of many separately made elements that were sol- dered or riveted together: the neck, the two handles, the body and the foot. It is possible that the edge of the lip was also made sepa rately and then mounted flush with the wall of the neck, a well known technique in the Archaic Period for the production of gadrooned oinochoai, which were particularly associated with Corinth 1. The teardrop-shaped body has a rounded base that is hidden by the sinuous, smooth profile of the foot. The decoration on the body con sists of two series of tongues that emerge from the neck and foot; they are separated at the point of maximum diameter by an open work vegetal garland enclosed by horizontal lines. The surface of the foot is covered in an uninterrupted chain of palmettes and stylized lotus flowers whose undulating lines display remarkable precision. In contrast with the rhythm created by the entirely vertical motifs of the body, which give the amphora its singular elegance, the top of the neck is dominated by horizontal friezes of lines, beads and circles. The lip is flat and smooth. From an artistic point of view, the handles are undeniably the most remarkable feature: they were probably cast from the same mold, but the cold-work details are not identical (see for example the treatment of the hairstyle). They were attached to the lip and to the point of maximum diameter by small nails (four for each handle) that still survive: two are visible in the bodies of the rams and the others by the front paws of the lions.
Their unusual composition combines various motifs that are some times seen separately on other handles: a) two reclining lions, posed on the edge of the vase; b) a nude standing kouros who holds the tails of the animals and places his head between them while his feet rest on the amphora’s shoulder; c) two rams seated on either side of the young man’s feet; d) an Archaic style gorgoneion,
whose monstrous hybrid features are strongly accentuated (large wide-open eyes, snub nose, grimace, a mouth with bared teeth and protruding tongue). These handles are of the highest artistic quality: the kouroi can withstand comparison not only to contemporary bronze figurines, but also to many life-size stone statues. Their musculature is well developed (cf. the torso and the legs) and their bodies possess elegant harmonious proportions, despite the exaggerated curvature of the back and legs. Their oval faces, characterized by large almond shaped eyes and the typical “Archaic smile”, are framed by spiral curls, while four tapering tresses, represented by squared beads, descend onto their chests. The four animals are seated in a perfectly naturalistic manner with their necks erect and their heads turned towards the viewer; their manes and pelts are very finely chiseled. The gorgoneia consist of very low relief masks whose presence does not fail to leave a frightening impression on the viewer. During the Greco-Roman period, amphorae – terracotta examples in particular – were the vessels of choice for the transport and storage of foodstuffs, grain, oil and especially wine. As recorded by ancient sources (the Iliad and the Odyssey in par ticular), large metal vessels were so important and valuable that they were regularly exchanged as gifts between kings or high ranking dignitaries, as well as playing an important role as spoils of war or prizes for athletic games 2. Afterwards, they could be dedicated to a sanctuary as a token of thanks to a specific god. The results of excavations of cemeteries confirm that by the end of the Archaic Period, the use of precious metals such as bronze became more and more common among the members of the upper classes for the creation of funerary urns, which were often modeled in the shape of hydriae 3. Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that this amphora would have served the same purpose as two other nearly contem porary examples found in southern Italy and Sicily within funerary contexts (at Paestum, an amphora found within a heroon; at Gela, an amphora from a late 6th century B.C. tomb) 4. The iconography of the handles also supports this hypothesis: the presence of figures such as a) masks of Gorgons, the Archaic apotropaic monster par excellence, who often ornamented funerary reliefs but also pedi ments of temples and shield bosses; b) lions, protectors of the de ceased that also appear on designated funerary monuments, and c) kouroi, figures of young nude men that were sometimes used in cemeteries in place of funerary stelai, all of which seem to indicate that this amphora, which certainly belonged to a wealthy member
of society, would have been used as an urn to contain the ashes of the deceased. In comparison to the two amphorae cited above, this example is differentiated by its perfectly executed, extremely elaborate orna mentation (Italian amphorae are smooth, without figural handles) and by a more balanced silhouette: the foot, which is much higher and larger than usual, is not overpowered by the dimensions of the vase, the profile of the body is in perfect harmony with the rounded shoulder and the neck is narrow and not as high. The specialists have not unanimously agreed upon the system of classification to be applied to regional workshops for Archaic metal vessels due to the rarity of surviving examples and their frequently incomplete state. Also, bronzesmiths may have been migratory work ers who worked on the grounds of Panhellenic sanctuaries, especial ly during the great festivals: these artisans could have easily traded various artistic influences and techniques amongst themselves, considering that their work was produced and sold throughout the Hellenic world. Methodologically, the style of the handles, even if they are figural, can be considered the best clue for determining the origin of this piece. Stylistic comparisons between the kouroi on this amphora and small Laconian bronzes that served as hydria or mirror han dles 5 from the mid 6th century B.C. are very informative: the closest pieces are the anthropomorphic handles that C. M. Stibbe classifies as Group C (540-520 B.C.) and it is crucial to note the Spartan ex ample in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The typological and sty listic similarities (attenuated proportions, elongated head, details of the face, composition of the hairstyle, treatment of the musculature, position of the arms, etc.) between these works further complicate attempts at a definitive date and place of origin 6.
Provenance Ex-American private collection, New York, USA.
Notes ROLLEY C., Les bronzes grecs, Fribourg, 1983, p. 134.
e.g. Hom., Iliad, IX, 122ss.; Hom., Iliad, XXIII, 160 ss.; CVA Geneva 2, p. 12, pl. 43.
On the use of bronze vessels, see ROLLEY C., op. cit., note (1), p. 132.
ROLLEY C., op. cit., p. 237, n. 267 (Gela); ROLLEY C., Les vases de bronze de l’archaïsme récent en Grande-Grèce, Naples, 1982, pl. 18-19 (Paes tum).
HERFORT-KOCH M., Archaische Bronzeplastik Lakoniens, Münster, 1986, e.g. pl. 7, K 56; pl. 8, K 57, K 58; pl. 14, K 99, K 102.
STIBBE C. M., The Sons of Hephaistos: Aspects of the Archaic Greek Industry, Rome, 2000, pp. 45-47. For the handle in Boston, see also COM STOCK M. et al., Greek, Etruscan and Roman Bronzes in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1971, p. 285, n. 410.
As for the other handle elements, the treatment of the lions and rams 7 corresponds to that of the aforementioned parallels, while the presence of the gorgoneion (seen on hydriae and oinochoai at tributed to Corinthian ateliers from the same period) is unknown on contemporary Laconian examples. They can be seen on earlier works, however, demonstrating that in this region, this tradition was reintroduced at the beginning of the 6th century 8. 40
STIBBE C. M., Eine archaische Bronzekanne in Basel in Antike Kunst 37, 1994, pp. 111-115.
e.g. MAAS M., Griechische und römische Bronzewerke des antiken Sammlungen, Munich, 1979, pp. 50-53. On the question of Laconian gorgon representations, see: ROLLEY C., op. cit. note (4), pp. 64-65; STIBBE C. M., Archaic Bronze Hydriae in Bulletin Antieke Beschaving, 67 1992, pp. 38-42; STIBBE C. M., op. cit. note (6), pp. 58-64 and 72-75.
Statue of a Goddess Greek, Archaic period, ca. 525 B.C. Terracotta with polychrome H: 68.2 cm
This majestic, standing goddess embodies a remarkable presence, which is accentuated by well-preserved surface details. The god dess is crowned with a red colored diadem and is adorned with a necklace, also in red, and earrings. The abundant decorative color ation of her clothing shows us that they were richly embellished: at the front, an alternating lotus flower chain extends downward from the ornamented necklines of her garments, and at the waist she wears a belt decorated with small squares of alternating red and blue 1. She wears three garments: 1) a chiton, the upper border of which is visible at the neckline below her necklace, and the lower border of which drapes across the top of her feet; 2) a belted peplos, the upper border of which is decorated with zigzag lines and red triangular shapes; 3) a shawl-like epiblema hanging down from the shoulders along her sides, the border of which is empha sized by a red band along each outer edge. The three-dimensional modeling of the garment is particularly evident as it hangs down from the figure’s waist area to pointed ends above the feet. At the corners of the epiblema, zigzag lines done in blue paint are used to indicate the elegant folds of cloth. Painted eyes, eyebrows, and lips delineate an expressive face, ani mated with the soft “Archaic smile,” so well known from the group of Archaic korai from the Athenian Acropolis. In many respects this terracotta sculpture shares affinities with the marble Archaic korai found there, particularly the kore known as Acropolis 593, which dates to circa 560-550 B.C. 2. In a pose similar to Acropolis 593, one arm of the figure is lowered and holds a ring-like wreath, which is decorated with alternating red and bluish turquoise tongues 3. The other arm is bent at the elbow with a hand held between the breasts. The Acropolis example holds a pomegranate, a fruit most often associated with the goddesses Hera, Demeter, and Perse phone 4. In her right hand, this goddess also held an attribute, now missing, but it was likely a pomegranate or a flower, either of which would be appropriate as a symbol of the earth’s fertility.
Similar to hairstyles of other Archaic korai, the hair of the god dess is indicated by wavy horizontal locks extending across her forehead, and two tresses extending down from behind the ears on each side of her head, draping across her upper shoulders and down to her breasts. At the back, which would have been unseen by the viewer, the hair is simply rendered as a quadrangular mass. Like many of the Acropolis korai, the goddess also places her left foot forward and ahead of her right foot, which adds a sense of naturalism to her otherwise hieratic and formal bearing.
Both the richly decorated clothing she wears and the diadem that crowns this stately figure mark her as the representation of a divin ity, perhaps Demeter or her daughter, Persephone, also known as Kore (daughter or maiden) by the Greeks 5. In antiquity the two were so closely linked that they were also known as “the Two Goddesses” or sometimes the “Demeteres.” As goddesses of fertility, both were associated with the fecundity of the earth, particularly with the pro duction of wheat. Because of this association with agriculture and growth, the settled rhythm of life, they were also regarded as impor tant influences in the development of civilization. The earliest and best known Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone is recorded in an epic poem dating to the Archaic period, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which relates to the most important cult involving these divinities 6. This famous myth tells of Persephone’s abduction by Hades, brother of Zeus and king of the underworld. When she was picking flowers in a meadow, Hades carried Persephone off to his underworld realm. Demeter’s search for her daughter proved fruit less, causing Demeter to withdraw from her normal functions, caus ing the failure of crops and the withering of vegetation throughout the world. Humankind would have starved without the intervention of Zeus. When all efforts failed to convince Demeter to continue her duties as goddess of fertility, Zeus sent Hermes to persuade Hades to release Persephone. Hades agreed to this, but not before trick ing the young goddess into eating some seeds of the pomegranate. Consequently, Persephone was required to spend part of the year with her husband in the underworld and part with her mother in the upper world.
Provenance Ex-American private collection, collected in 1980’s-1990’s.
Notes For coloration on korai: BRINKMANN V. “Girl or Goddess?: The Riddle of the “Peplos Kore” from the Athenian Acropolis,” in Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, exhibition catalog of the Harvard Univer sity Art Museums and the Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptotek, Munich, 2007.
For korai from the Acropolis, and Acropolis 593: KARAKASI K., Archaic Korai, Los Angeles, 2003, p. 115, pl. 129, 238; RICHTER G. M. A., Korai: Archaic Greek Maidens, London, 1968 and New York, 1988, p. 40, figs. 147-150; BROUSKARI M., The Acropolis Museum: A Descriptive Catalog, Athens, 1974, pp. 43-44; BOARDMAN J., Greek Sculpture: The Archaic Period, New York, 1978, pp. 64-66, fig. 109; RIDGWAY B. S., The Archaic Style in Greek Sculpture, Princeton, 1977, pp. 104-05, fig. 29.
An additional, terracotta parallel for a kore holding a wreath similar to this figure was recently discovered in Sicily, for which see: BENNETT M. and PAUL A., Magna Graecia: Greek Art from South Italy and Sicily, exhibition catalog of the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Tampa Museum of Art, Cleveland, 2002, no. 57, an altar with three female figures.
For significance of the pomegranate: MUTHMANN F., Der Granatapfel: Symbol des Lebens in der Alten Welt, Fribourg, 1983.
For Demeter and Persephone and their cult: GANZ T., Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Baltimore 1993, pp. 63-70; BURKERT W., Greek Religion, Cambridge, MA 1985, pp. 159-61; BURKERT W., Homo Necans, Berkeley 1983, 248-97; SIMON E., Die Götter der Griechen, Darmstadt, 1985, pp. 91-117.
RICHARDSON N. J., The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Oxford, 1974.
Head of a Bull Greek, Attic, second quarter of the 5th century, ca. 480-460 B.C. Pentelic marble H: 33 cm
The head is carved from a magnificent block of marble that scientific analysis has revealed to be from the great Attic quarries of Mount Pentelicon 1. The break, situated at the level of the neck, is definitely ancient: the head is very well preserved, but the lower jaw is missing. The back of the stone is smooth without any indication of the hide, but miniscule parallel marks left by the sculptor’s chisel can still be seen on the nape of the neck; the placement of the horns and the ears are clearly visible. The head belonged to a life size or slightly smaller statue of a bull. It is impossible to know conclusively what the original pose of the animal was: his neck is sharply, but smoothly, curved, the jaw is low ered and the head may have turned slightly to the right (frontally, the curve of the neck is more rounded on the right, while on the left side it seems to descend vertically to the shoulder). Therefore, one can imagine that the bull was standing with his head lowered and turned slightly to the right. In Antiquity, the bull was a symbol of force, cour age and of power, like the lion, with which it was often associated. This statue is of excellent artistic quality: the sculptor’s skill is evidenced in the delicate and nuanced modeling that resembles representations of bovids, horses or rams from the end of the 6th and 5th century B.C. The head and the neck exude a remarkable sense of force and power, but the modeling is so nuanced and fine that the bull almost seems alive despite the existing breaks. One senses the triangular structure of the perfectly reproduced skull under the skin: large fore head, arched eye sockets and the smooth, rounded flat of the nose. Numerous anatomical details, such as the folds of skin on the neck, the rounded upper lip and the globular eyes with their linear lids, are modeled or incised; some veins snake in low relief across the sides of the nose towards the muzzle. The quality and the stylistic preci sion of this piece are in complete accordance with the stone’s place of origin: it is probably a sculpture by an Attic artist.
In the Greek world, there is a long tradition of sculpting large-scale figures of bulls, and it was revived during the Archaic period with, for example, an Attic work: the famous limestone and marble pedi ments from the Acropolis with bovids being attacked by lions and succumbing to the assault. Other marble fragments in the Acropolis Museum also belonged to a statue of a bull, the same bull as the fragments from the Samos Museum found in the Heraion (fragments of the feet and base), and there was a magnificent over life size ani mal in silver and gold dedicated at Delphi in the mid 6th century 2.
But this head is certainly more recent than the statues mentioned: chronologically, it can be placed between figures of bovids from the metopes of the Athenian Treasures at Delphi (Theseus and the Bull of Marathon; Heracles and the Herd of Geryon) and the head of a bull from Olympia (the metope of Heracles and the Cretan Bull), which display comparable stylistic development and realistic sculpt ing, even if the actual style of our head is different. The bovids from the Panathenaic procession from the Parthenon frieze possess a more accomplished, and therefore more recent, air 3. A date of be tween 490/480 and 460 seems reasonable. The head was not part of an architectural ensemble but was sculpt ed entirely in the round. At the same time, one can exclude it from a sculptural group depicting a scene that pits animal against animal or against a human or a hero because of this animal’s apparent calm and the absence of any traces of a second figure. The inhuman shape of the neck prevents us from envisioning the head on a mas culine torso, as may have been the case in a depiction of Theseus versus the Minotaur (in the iconography of the time, the monster is given a man’s body) 4. Other hypotheses aside, one can simply suppose that this bull was an offering made to a sanctuary, like the others from Delphi or Olym pia that are mentioned in the ancient texts. One should not forget that bovids were among the sacrificial victims of choice for both public or private sacrifices as attested to not only on the Parthenon friezes, but also in numerous representations and classical sources 5. One can complete this quick review of the type by comparing this head to the nearly complete statue of a bull that crowns the tomb of Dionysios of Kollytos located in the Kerameikos Cemetery in Athens. Despite the chronological difference, (the Kerameikos image dates from the early 4th century B.C.) one notes the analogous position and the shape of the neck, which is curved forward in such a way that the lower jaw seems to nearly touch the animal’s breast. Placed on a tomb, the bull may have had significance not only in relation to physical vigor, but also to fertility 6.
Provenance Ex-American private collection, collected in 1980’s-1990’s.
Notes The stone was analyzed by the laboratory of the Geneva Museum of Natu ral History using the method of cathodoluminescence.
For the pediments on the Acropolis, see SCHRADER H., Die archaischen Marmorbildwerken der Akropolis, Mayence/Rhin, 1969, pp. 377-388 and STEWART A., Greek Sculpture, An Exploration, New Haven - London, 1990, fig. 69-72; the other fragments from the Acropolis are in SCHRADER H., op. cit., pp. 255-256, n. 379, fig. 299-300; for the statue of Samos FREYER-SCHAUENBURG B., Samos XI, Bildwerken der archaischen Zeit und des strengen Stils, Bonn, 1974, pp. 169-170, n. 85, pl. 71; for the statue in gold and silver from Delphi, see AMANDRY P., Statue de taureau en argent dans Etudes delphiques, Bulletin de Correspondance hellénique, Supplément IV, 1977, pp. 272-293.
DE LA COSTE MESSELIÈRE P., Fouilles de Delphes, IV, 4, Sculptures du trésor des Athéniens, Paris, 1957, pl. 19-20, pl. 22-26 (Theseus), pl. 68 (Heracles); ASHMOLE B. - YALOURIS N., Olympia: The Sculptures of the Temple of Zeus, London, 1967, fig. 162, fig. 165-166; BROMMER F., Der Parthenonfries, Katalog und Untersuchung, Mayence/Rhin, 1977, pl. 52-53, 155, 159.
There exist a group of works by Myron representing the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur that were erected on the Acropolis and that continue to be known today through Roman copies: KALTSAS N., Sculpture in the National Archaeological Museum Athens, Athens, 2002, pp. 96-97, n. 169.
La cité des images, Religion et société en Grèce antique, Lausanne - Paris, 1984, pp. 48, fig. 73.
KNIGGE U., Der Kerameikos von Athen, Führung durch Ausgrabungen und Geschichte, Athens, 1988, pp. 122-126. Contrary to the hypothesis of a very important funerary monument from the early 5th century, see RICHTER G.M.A., Archaic Gravestone of Attica, London, 1961, pp. 53-55.
Kylix with the representation of A Horseman Greek, Thrace, late 5th century B.C. Silver with gilding D: 19.2 cm (with the handles)
This cup is in a remarkable state of preservation: with the exception of some cuts at the edge, it is practically intact. The incredible thin ness of the walls and the perfect profile indicate that the cup was molded and wheel made rather than hammered. The low, curvy body has a ridge halfway up the side of the vessel that separates the hemispheric profile from the bottom of the cup; the flared rim possesses a rounded lip; the bowl is supported by a low ring foot. The handles, which are circular in cross section, are soldered at the level of the ridge; in spite of their size, they do not pass the height of the lip. Their placement on the body follows and accentuates the horizontal axis marked by the horseman’s move ment too the right. Typologically, the same type of cup is seen in Attic black glaze ce ramics from the 5th century B.C. along with all of the different varia tions in proportion, size, size of the handles, etc. 1. On the interior at the exact center of the vessel, one sees the impres sion of the tool used to make the cup and especially to execute the decorated medallion: all of the motifs were very finely incised and then leaf gilded. In spite of the image’s miniature size, the precision of the work is remarkable and rivals that of the finest metal vessels known. A garland of leaves, knotted above and below, and a circle ornament ed with dots border the tondo, which presents a bearded horseman. The young and well groomed man is depicted in the prime of his life with perfectly developed musculature. His anatomy, which consists of his head, arms, hands, leg and foot, are perfectly detailed and drawn: even if one looks only at the classical profile of the face, one observes the short trim beard and the eyes seen in profile and detailed with lashes and brows! The man urges his horse to a gallop and grasps the reins in his left hand while the right is armed with a long lance 2. He wears a short, very finely pleated linen chiton while a belt cinches his waist. A thick cloak with a triangular motif embroidered onto the fabric is clasped at the neck with a circular fibula; the cloak billows out behind him thanks to the wind created by the galloping horse. The warrior wears a pointed leather bonnet on his head with cheekpieces; a finely chiseled metal skullcap covers the crown of the head. 58
The horse, rearing slightly, plants his hind legs on a sandy ground strewn with flowers. Like on the horseman, all of the animal’s details
(cf. musculature, position as well as harnessing) were incised in a perfectly natural fashion that corresponds with the typology of Greek representations from the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. The lack of precise attributes prevents positive identification of the man as a known mythological figure: he is probably a man from the cavalry class, one of the higher classes of Athenian society. The outfit that he wears matches traditional Thracian garb, consist ing of a foxskin bonnet, the alopekis, and of the cloak of the cavalry, the zeira. The look is completed by supple leather boots (embades) and by the pelta (a wooden shield shaped like a crescent moon) 3. In Attic iconography, this costume appears toward the end of the 6th century and continues through the following century. This is most often explained in relation to two known historical facts: the hiring of troops of Thracian mercenaries by the tyrant Peisistratus and the return of Miltiades the Younger to Athens after his prolonged stay in Thrace 4. The people who dressed in this manner were not only Thracian soldiers (who were most often footsoldiers or fully armed cavalry) but also Athenian nobles who chose to adorn themselves in exotic fashions: among the best examples of this type of dressing is the horseman in the tondo of a cup by the Foundry Painter (ca. 480 B.C.) 5 and especially some of the horsemen sculpted on the Parthenon frieze, whose Athenian origins are without doubt. One can mention in par ticular a group from the Western Frieze (plaque IV, 8), whose image is an almost perfect match with the horseman on this cup, as if the craftsman had copied the Athenian temple relief. 6. If the artistic quality of this cup is of the same level as that of the best red figure kylikes and can be compared with the great sculp tural groups, then the use of two precious metals such as silver and gold mark this as an extraordinary object. It possesses only a small number of parallels among ancient jewelry from what is essentially Northern Greece (Thrace, colonies on the Black Sea) 7: in this case, one can imagine the pride of the dignitaries or the Thracian military leaders (people whom the Greeks saw as barbarians), who were suf ficiently wealthy enough to acquire a piece of goldwork of such great value, on which an Athenian noble is depicted dressed in a Thracian fashion.
Provenance Ex-Swiss private collection. American private collection, acquired in 1996.
Notes SPARKES B.A. - TALCOTT L., The Athenian Agora, vol. XII, Black and Plain Pottery of the 6th, 5th and 4th century B.C., Princeton, 1970, pp. 266-267, pl. 21, n. 446ss.
The lance here has two points: one that serves as the weapon, and at the other end, one that is used to plant the shaft into the earth, thus protecting the wood from corrosion. Of the many points of this type, those of impres sive size (ca. 40 cm) were found dedicated as offerings at sanctuaries after a military victory or in the tombs of soldiers; sometimes they are ele gantly painted into military scenes from the 5th century, see SNODGRASS A. M., Armi e armature dei Greci, Rome, 1991, pp. 107-108, fig. 46, 48.
On representations of Thracian soldiers, see RAECK W., Zum Barbarenbild in der Kunst Athens im 6. und 5. Jahrhundert v. Chr., Bonn, 1981, pp. 67ss.; ZIMMERMANN K., Thraker-Darstellungen auf griechischen Vasen, in VULPE R. (ed.), Actes du IIe congrès international de Thracologie (Buca rest, September 4-10, 1976), pp. 429-446.
On the return of Miltiades from Thrace and his role at Marathon see Herodotus, VI, 103-104. Thucydides mentions the existence of groups of Thracians hired by Athens even a century later during the Peloponnesian War (for ex. VII, 26). At the same time, Attic red figure vases with soldiers and Thracian horsemen were exported to the north, where they were de posited in the tombs of some Thracian warriors as funerary offerings: Die alten Zivilisationen Bulgariens, Das Gold der Thraker, Bâle, 2007, p. 158, n. 116-117.
SIMON E., Die griechischen Vasen, Munich, 1981, n. 159, pp. 117-118. It is necessary to note that it was L. Heuzey who suggested that the Athe nian cavalry did not just wear Thracian clothing for fashion. The author emphasizes the superiority of the Thracian costume to the Attic one, espe cially for winter and nocturnal guards Cf. HEUZEY L., Notes sur quelques manteaux grecs in Revue des études grecques 40, 1927, pp. 12ss.
BROMMER F., Die Parthenon Skulpturen, Metopen, Fries, Giebel, Kultbild, Mayence/Rhin, 1982, pl. 52 (IV, 8), pl. 59 (X, 19), pl. 81 (XXXVIII, 117).
L’or des Thraces, Trésors de Bulgarie, Paris, 2006, pp. 126-127, n. 40; pp. 132-133, n. 44; pp. 134-135, n. 45; VENEDIKOV I. - GERASSIMOV T., Thracian Art Treasures, Sofia and London, 1975, pp. 360-62, 143, 163-174.
A Cameo: Caligula and Antonia the Younger Roman, ca. 37-41 A.D. Sardonyx with beige background and gold Dim: 3.3 x 3.8 cm
This cameo is carved from a large elliptical piece of sardonyx with a beige background: the two figures are sculpted in relief from a lighter layer of the stone. The piece, which is perfectly preserved aside from a small chip, is mounted in a gold setting that may be antique; it con sists of a hammered ribbon ornamented with semi-circles and leaves, a line of small beads and two twisted wires. A loop allows for suspen sion of the jewel, and the back of the cameo is flat and smooth. The image represents the bust of a man and woman: they are seen frontally, even if their heads are turned slightly towards one anoth er, evident in the remarkable foreshortening of their faces, the in ner halves of which are more thinly carved than the exterior. The left shoulder of the man hides the right shoulder of the woman as if he were in the foreground. Despite their differences in size and shape (the woman’s head is smaller and more oval), the two busts bear a strong resemblance to each other: the surfaces are smooth and nu anced, the eyes, mouth and nose are carved in the same manner, the treatment of the folds of the garments follow the same design. The man, who appears to be a beardless young adult, wears a crown of laurels with blade-shaped leaves. He is dressed in a tunic and toga, the deeply pleated fabric of which forms a triangle around the rounded neckline. His smooth face is elongated but strong with a high, smooth forehead and prominent rounded chin, deeply sunken eye sockets and apples of the cheeks that are only lightly indicated. The nose, which is straight and even, widens towards the base and forms rounded and clearly separated nostrils; the mouth is small and thin. He sports a short hairstyle with small curls falling across the forehead to the left and right (the part is just above the left eye) and uneven locks at the temples. The ears, which protrude quite a bit, are carved with great attention to detail. The long, thin neck displays a slight depression that represents the tension of the muscles from the head to turning to the left.
Despite numerous stylistic similarities, the female head is sculpted in a much gentler manner than that of the man: her neck is long and elegant, the contours of her thin, oval face are surrounded by a coif fure that forms an arch above her forehead, the nose is slightly less prominent and the mouth more petite. She seems young, but her idealized features prevent us from knowing her exact age. She wears a tunic with a rounded neckline while a veil, clearly visible behind the neck, covers her head; this fabric is held to the top of her head by a plain diadem. Her simple, classic hairstyle consists of a central part with tresses flowing towards her temples in deeply incised, even, undulating curls that are then combed toward the back of the head.
W.R. Megow, who published this piece almost twenty years ago, pro poses a very tempting interpretation for the two figures represented: they may be the Emperor Caligula (Gaius Caesar, son of Germani cus, born in 12 A.D.) accompanied by his paternal grandmother, Antonia the Younger (Antonia Minor, who was also the mother of the future Emperor Claudius) 1. Historically, the strong familial ties and affections that existed between grandmother and grandson explain their joint presence on an object as valuable as a cameo: on many occasions, Suetonius states that Caligula, along with his sisters, spent a number of years with his grandmother 2; after his succession to the throne, the young emperor honored his grandmother with the title Augusta (37 A.D.) 3. Afterwards, their relationship became com plicated: according to the sources, he forced her to commit suicide or poisoned her that very same year 4. The male bust can be compared to the principal type (Haupttypus) among Caligula’s portraits, two of the best examples of which can be found in Fulda and Malibu 5. This interpretation is supported by the same shape of the face, where the eyes and the cheeks are quite sunken and the chin prominent; by the high forehead, bordered by bangs whose contours display movement; by the positioning of the curls, which are not identical, but which nevertheless follow a similar pattern; by the widening shape of the nose, and by the small mouth. The crown of laurels – after Caesar and Augustus, this crown, a sym bol of triumph, regularly adorned the heads of emperors, especially on coin portraits – is also seen on other cameo representations of this emperor. However, it is more difficult to confirm the identity of the female figure as his paternal grandmother. Among the women from the early Imperial period, only Livia and Antonia the Younger wore such simple hairstyles. Livia seems an unlikely candidate because of the fuller shape of her face and her nose, which displays a bump in profile. Ac cording to Megow, the most probable candidate would therefore be Antonia the Younger, whose face has a very similar long, thin struc ture. This portrait would fall under the “simple style” of her images 6. According to this interpretation, and keeping in mind that Caligula led a life that was particularly removed from the Senate after his succession to the throne, the dating of this piece can be placed between 37 and 41 A.D., the period during which Gaius reigned over the Roman Empire. After his assassination in January 41, the Senate wanted to decree the damnatio memoriae against him, but Claudius, his successor, stopped the implementation of this mea sure, even while personally taking care of the removal of all images
of the dethroned prince during the night 7. These events provide a terminus ante quem for the dating of this gem and at the same time explain the relative rarity of portraits of Caligula.
Provenance Ex-Feuardent Family collection, France, collected in the 2nd half of the 19th century; probably acquired by Félix-Bienaimé Feuardent (1819-1907).
Published in: MEGOW W.-R., Kameen von Augustus bis Alexander Severus, Berlin, 1987, pp. 187-188, n. A 65, pl. 14,10.
Notes MEGOW W.-R., Kameen von Augustus bis Alexander Severus, Berlin, 1987, pp. 187-188, n. A 65, pl. 14,10. The author had not had a chance to examine the cast preserved in the Gypsothek in Bonn, v. p. 39, note 124.
see, e.g. Suetonius, Life of the Twelve Caesars: Caligula, 10, 1 ; 24, 2.
Dion Cassius, Roman History, 59, 3; Suetonius, Life of the Twelve Caesars: Caligula, 15, 4.
Suetonius, Life of the Twelve Caesars: Caligula, 23, 4; see also MEGOW W.-R., op. cit. note (1), pp. 39 and 188 ; BALTY J.-C et al., Sculptures antiques de Chiragan, I.1: les portraits romains, époque julioclaudienne, Toulouse, 2005, pp. 158-159.
For the portrait in Fulda, see VON HEINTZE H, Die antiken Porträts in Schloss Fasanerie bei Fulda, Mayence/Rhin, 1968, pp. 31-31, n. 21, for the one in Malibu, see JOHANSSEN F. S., The Sculpted Portraits of Caligula in Ancient Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Vol. 1, 1987, pp. 87106. On the portraits of Caligula, see the monographs of BOSCHUNG D., Die Bildnisse des Caligula, Berlin, 1989, pp. 32-57 (Haupttypus); pp. 51-53 for cameo representations of Gaius Caesar.
POLASCHEK K., Studien zur Iconographie der Antonia minor, Rome, 1973, pp. 19-24; BOSCHUNG D., Die Bildnistypen der iulisch-claudischen Kaiserfamilien: ein kritischer Forschungsbericht in Journal of Roman Archaeology 6, 1993, pp. 51-52.
Dion Cassius, Roman History, 60, 4.
The Emperor Caracalla (?) (211 - 217 A.D.) Roman, early 3rd century A.D. Fine-grained white marble H: 25 cm
The head is whole, the surface is polished and in an excellent state of preservation. At the back, the hair is carved but the small locks are not entirely completed. There are still traces of red, and perhaps black, color in the hair. The break is located under the chin: unfortu nately, the remaining part of the neck is not sufficient to get a clear picture of the head position in respect to the shoulders, or even to the body of the statue it belonged to. This is a life size head, which nevertheless conveys an unusual sense of power; this impression is accentuated by the cubical shape and the imposing bony structure, one can perfectly feel the bone struc ture under the modeling of the skin (forehead, cheekbones, squared jaw). The gaze is imperious and fierce, almost diabolical. This is a high quality work. The numerous anatomical details and the well-marked asymmetry, mostly in the execution of the forehead, the eyes and the cheeks, confer to this head a precise personal nature: it is indisputably an individual portrait with realistic and differenti ated features. The figure represented is a male adult in the prime of life. The face, massive and square, contrasts with the fine and detailed modeling: the wrinkles and the muscles are plastically rendered by the numer ous well-marked and rounded variations of the surfaces (forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, chin), while the use of incisions and ridges is limited mainly to the area of the eyes. The mouth is large and sensual with full lips; the eyes, small and almond-shaped, have no relief work; the iris is indicated by a small circular incision and the pupils are carved in the shape of small crescent moons. The modeling of the eyebrows – carved in high re lief and with an angular contour – is one of the most remarkable features of this face and contributes in conferring a harsh and defi ant expression to the subject. At the center of the forehead, a deep wrinkle is rendered by a Y shape incision.
The hair and beard have precise contours, which clearly define the shape of the face. The hair forms a skullcap that wraps evenly around the head. A multitude of small locks, irregularly arranged, are executed partly using a drill and partly by light incisions that indicate the various locks. On the cheeks, the beard is rendered by incised curls, while on the chin, as in the moustache, the hair is simply indicated by small incised lines. There is an incised circular dimple at the center of the chin.
It is in the early 3rd century A.D. that one finds the best parallels for this head, especially during the time of Caracalla. The strong head and the rectangular face with its brutal expression, the receding cheekbones, the pointy chin, the thick hair rendered by a multitude of ringlets and the short beard are elements that regularly character ize the images of the emperor, mostly those from the last years of his reign. One is therefore tempted to identify in this head a portrait of the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Despite some differences (the treatment of the beard and the hair is not identical, the mouth is fuller, the head is not turned to the right, etc.) these features bear a resemblance to those of the alleinherrschertypus type after a mode of classification proposed by H. B. Wiggers; a style that was created in 212 and was then distributed throughout the empire until the end of Caracalla’s reign 1. The remarkable technical and artistic qualities of this head support this hypothesis. But one must keep in mind that, already in the 1st century A.D., ordinary citizens (men and women) did not hesitate to take elements of the imperial iconography for their own effigies: therefore, this head could be that of a contemporary of Caracalla who was probably among his partisans and who would have had himself depicted imitating the features of the favored “princeps” 2. Born in Lyon on April 4, 188 A.D., Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, sur named Caracalla because of the Gaulish hooded long sleeved cloak that he was in the habit of wearing, was Berber on his father’s side (Septimius Severus from Tripoli in Libya) and Syrian on his mother’s side (Julia Domna, daughter of the high priest of Baal from Emesa, a Syrian city). Fascinated by Egypt, he visited the tomb of Alexander the Great in 216. Although he looked up to Alexander the Great as a role model, by the end of his reign, Caracalla has become a veritable tyrant, known for being particularly cruel and bloodthirsty: it is the very realistic expression of these tendencies that shines through so clearly and that matches portraits of the type in question. He died in Carrhae, in Mesopotamia, stabbed by an officer of his guard, on April 8, 217 3.
Provenance Ex-Swiss private collection, early 1990’s.
Published in: CHAMAY J., Portrait de Caracalla in Artpassions, Revue suisse d’art et de culture, July 2008, pp. 42-44. Imago: Four Centuries of Roman Portraiture, Phoenix Ancient Art, GenevaNew York, 2007, n. 11.
Notes On portraits of Caracalla, see especially the monograph by WIGGERS H. B., Caracalla, Geta, Plautilla (Das römische Herrscherbild III,1), Berlin, 1971, pp. 9-92; for portraits of the alleinherrschertypus type, see also the heads from the Louvre in DE KERSAUSON K., Catalogue des portraits romains, Tome II: De l’année de la guerre civile (68-69 ap. J.-C.) à la fin de l’Empire, Paris, 1996, n. 175-179, pp. 382-391.
see for example BALTY J.-C et al., Sculptures antiques de Chiragan, I.1: les portraits romains, époque julio-claudienne, Toulouse, 2005, pp. 137ss.
For Caracalla’s biography, see Dion Cassius, Roman History, 77-79 and Historia Augusta: Life of Caracalla (Book XIII).
The Emperor Licinius (308 - 324 A.D.) Roman, ca. 300 - 320 A.D. Gold leaf H: 14 cm, W: 147.78 g
A small bust in hammered gold leaf, in all likelihood originally fixed to a wooden support that was in turn probably attached to a wooden support as indicated by the four small holes along the bottom edge, which would have held the nails.
similar, thus allowing for a plausible identification 4. Two small silver heads in the Musée de Mayence representing two emperors from the late 3rd or early 4th century A.D. also come from this region, but even without the find spot, one can still identify them as Tetrarchs 5.
It represents a young man, with shaved hair wearing a thin mous tache and an unshaped beard that does not cover the cheeks. He wears the paludamentum, or military cloak, fastened on the right shoulder by a round fibula. Beneath, he also wears a cuirass, the leather straps (pteruges in Greek) of which can be seen passing over the same shoulder.
Such valuable effigies, in this small scale, often accompanied the troops on their campaigns and possessed symbolic and cult sig nificance: in the camps, it compensated for the physical absence of the emperor and helped to insure the loyalty of the soldiers. As explained by Vegetius in his treatise on the art of war, a legionnaire (named the imaginarius or imaginifer) was expressly charged with transporting and displaying the imago of the emperor during the mil itary campaigns: shown carrying a standard topped by the imperial portrait, these soldiers are present on such important monuments as the Column of Trajan or on the pedestal reliefs on the Column of Antoninus Pius, now at the Vatican. Other reliefs, often funerary stelai, represent the imaginairii holding their military insignia 6.
The physiognomy of the figure is expressed by a large, creased fore head, prominent superciliar arches, elongated eyes, a slightly aqui line nose and a small mouth with full lips. The expression of his gaze is particularly intense. Wearing the hair short was in vogue from the rise of the soldieremperors (during the second quarter of the 3rd century A.D.) until the early decades of the 4th century. The carving of the pupils, which are incised in the upper part of the eye, also corresponds with the iconographic conventions of the period. It is thus within these years that this portrait has to be dated. As proposed by B. Steidl 1, greater precision in the identification can be made through the treatment of the beard, represented by long, undulating incisions in low relief that flow over the smooth chin, and through the details of the small moustache, which is barely indicated, all characteristics of the por traits of Emperor Licinius. Today, his portraits are rare and sometimes questioned since after his death, his image was subjected to the damnatio memoriae due to his persecution of Christians 2. This attribution takes into account the fact that pure gold, the no blest and most highly prized of metals, was exclusively reserved for images of gods, imperial portraits or images of the imperial family. Gold portraits have survived in very small numbers because they were melted down to recover the precious metal. Few examples ex ist, the foremost one being the bust of Marcus Aurelius found at Avenches as well as a Septimius Severus from the Komotini Muse um in Greece; statues of high-ranking dignitaries, nobles or citizens were restricted to silver or gilt bronze 3.
A three dimensional silver image of Licinius was found on the banks of the Black Sea and is housed in Munich (Archäologische Staatssammlung): despite some differences in the contours of the beard and a fuller moustache, the typology of the two busts is
Native to Illyria, this general became master of the entire Orient in 313 A.D. But conflict with Constantine the Great, who ruled the western part of the empire, never ceased growing: the war between the two factions broke out in 324, and after several lost battles, Licinius was exiled to Thessaloniki. Accused of conspiring with the Goths to regain power, he was assassinated the following year on Constantine’s orders.
Provenance Ex-Swiss private collection, Geneva, Switzerland.
Exhibited Gold, Magie, Mythos, Macht. Gold der Alten, Exhibition, Munich, Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, November 30, 2001 – April 2, 2002. Gold! Natural Treasure, Cultural Obsession, Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Published in: Imago: Four Centuries of Roman Portraiture, Phoenix Ancient Art, GenevaNew York, 2007, n. 15. WAMSER L. and GEBHARD R. (ed.), Gold, Magie, Mythos, Macht. Gold der Alten, Exhibition Catalogue, Munich, Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, November 30, 2001 – April 2, 2002, Stuttgart, 2001, p. 295, n. 198.
Notes This attribution was proposed in 2001 by STEIDL B. in WAMSER L. and GEBHARD R. (ed.), Gold, Magie, Mythos, Macht. Gold der Alten, Exhibition Catalogue, Munich, Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, November 30, 2001 – April 2, 2002, Stuttgart, 2001, p. 295, n. 198 (ill.).
On the problem of portraits of Licinius, see Costantino il Grande, La civiltà antica al bivio tra Oriente e Occidente, Milan, 2005, p. 208, n. 7 (with bi bliography); L’ORANGE H.-P., Das Spätantike Herrscherbild von Diokletian bis zu Konstantin-Söhnen 284-361 n. Chr., Berlin, 1984, pp. 49-50, 116118 ; OVERBECK B., Argentum romanum: ein Schatzfund vom spätrömischem Geschirr, Munich, 1973.
HOCHULI-GYSEL A. et al., Marc Aurèle, L’incroyable découverte du buste en or à Avenches, Fribourg, 2006, pp. 97-103.
HOCHULI-GYSEL A. et al., op. cit. note (3), pp. 102-103, fig. 109.
KÜNZL E., Zwei silberne Tetrarchenporträts im RGZM und die römischen Kaiserbildnisse aus Gold und Silber dans Jahrbuch des römisch-germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz, 30, 1983, pp. 381-402, pl. 64-65.
On the function of these small portraits and on the imaginarii see VEGE TIUS, The Art of War, II, 7; KÜNZL E., op. cit. note (5), pp. 385-393; AME LUNG W., Die Skulpturen des vaticanischen Museums, vol. 1, Berlin, 1903, p. 891, pl. 117 (the relief from the base of the column of Antoninus Pius).
A Mosque Lamp Islamic, Mamluk period, Syria or Egypt, 13th – early 14th century A.D. Enamelled Glass H: 26 cm
This glass lamp has been lightly gilded and is slightly opaque; it consists of a conical foot, a bulbous body and a flaring neck. Six small handles with decorative medallions - colored fleurs de lys, bordered by a motif of blue leaves – between them are distributed around the belly. A foliate motif of colored flower buds and unfurled leaves ornaments the top and bottom of the belly. The neck is decorated with roundels of stylized inscriptions alternat ing with deep green foliage and an imitation red wax stamp. Two lines of decorative blue leaves border these motifs. Very finely drawn in red ink with the help of a stylet are friezes of commas placed at the level of the stomach, the neck and the top of the lamp. In the Islamic religion, the donation of a lamp was considered an act of reverence towards God. This act is connected to a text in the Koran that says in verse 35 of the sura “The Light”: “God is the light of the heavens and the earth! His light is like a niche in which one finds a lamp. The lamp is made of glass; the glass is like a brilliant star.” The analogy between light and God inspired the donation of lamps such as this one since figural representations of God are strictly forbidden by Islamic religion. Thus, the beginning of this verse is very literally embodied by Mamluk glass lamps. From a practical point of view, the donation of lamps during this pe riod was necessarily important for lighting the interiors of mosques during the morning and evening prayers. The origin of the production of enamelled glass lamps is tentatively attributed to 13th century Syrian and Egyptian artisans who excelled in the creation of enamelled glass. The first Islamic enamelled glass appeared in Syria between the 12th and the early 13th century 1. This technique, which was quickly adopted by Egyptian artisans, flourished and grew into a large and thriving industry 2. It remains very difficult to distinguish between Syrian and Egyptian produc tion.
Enamelled glass is a colored glass technique. After the glass has been formed and cooled, the artisan applies a mix of oil and pig ment to the surface with the aid of tweezers or a brush. The object is then placed at the opening of the kiln until it reaches a low tempera ture that slowly reheats it. The pigments fuse with the surface of the
glass, creating a fine layer of color that is solidified by the cooling 3. Scientific analysis of this glass and its pigments confirms its attribu tion to the Mamluk period: the composition of the glass and the techniques used in its creation are typical of Mamluk production from the 12th – 14th centuries. The dating given by the technical analyses corresponds perfectly with observations about the morphological and iconographic ele ments. This allows us to overcome the absence of an inscription referring to a king or rich donor that would have allowed us to date the object more precisely. Morphologically, the lamp is very elegant and placed on a high conical foot. It seems that this form evolved from the lamps of the second half of the 13th century. The Victoria & Albert Museum (inv. 330-1900) possesses one of the few examples that survive from this period: very simple and elongated, this lamp from the 13th century has figural decoration (very rare) on a transparent ground. The body is small, nearly oval, and the foot is narrow and conical, mirroring the large inverted cone of the neck. This form clearly stands out from the squatter pieces from the 14th and 15th centuries: their feet are small, sometimes lacking a conical shape and no longer ring shaped. The neck is excessively developed and is half the height of the lamp. The body is large, sometimes round or semi-spherical 4. From a morphological point of view, our lamp appears to be part of a transitional phase between the 13th and 14th centuries: the foot is a fifth of the height, and the belly and neck are equally divided between the remaining four-fifths 5. Iconographically, the use of vegetal decoration supports a date from the early 14th century. During this period, artisans abandoned the animal motifs derived from the influence of Khorasan to concentrate on vegetal motifs. This movement was initiated at the end of the 13th century.
Provenance Ex-Charles Gillot Collection, Paris, acquired on May 15, 1900 from Dikran Khan Kelekian (1868-1951), Paris. Recorded in the accounts of Charles Gillot on May 15, 1900. Number 91 (located in the 3rd floor gallery, 2nd shelf) in the estate inventory of the Charles Gillot Collection, dated April 11, 1903.
Exhibited: Exposition des Arts Musulmans, Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris, May - June 1903, n° 654.
Notes CARBONI, S., Glass from Islamic Lands: The Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait National Museum, New York, 2001, pp. 323-325.
For an introduction to the production of enamelled glass, see CARBONI S., Mamluk Enamelled and Gilded Glass in the Museum of Islamic Art, Qua tar, London, 2003, p. 48-51, n. 7; S.M. GOLDSTEIN, Glass from Sassanian Antecedents to European Imitations: the Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, vol. XV, London, 2005; LAMM, C.J., Mittelalterliche Gläser und Steinschnittarbeiten aus dem Nahen Osten, 2 vol. Berlin, 1929-1930.
On the technique of enamelled glass, see WATSON O., Pottery and Glass: Luster and Enamel in Gilded and Enamelled Glass from the Middle East, London, 1998, pp. 15-19.
For examples of pieces of this type, see BERGMAN S.M., Ancient Glass in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, 1980, n. 274; CHARLESTON R. J., Masterpieces of Glass: A World History from the Corning Museum Glass, New York, 1990, n. 33; WARD R. (ed.), Gilded and Enamelled Glass from the Middle East, London, 1998, fig. 23.5, 23.6, 25.4, 25.5, 25.6.
For similar pieces preserved in Berlin (The Museum of Islamic Art, Perga mon Museum, inv. I 2572), in the collection of Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon (inv. 1033), in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pitts burgh (inv. 24667/1), in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh (inv. A 1900.153).
Selection of objects Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam Project manager
Hélène Yubero, Geneva
Bibiane Choi, New York
Hughes Dubois, Paris and Brussels except pp. 17, 39 Stefan Hagen, New York
Jean Genoud SA, Le Mont-sur-Lausanne
Ali Aboutaam Michael C. Hedqvist
Phoenix Ancient Art S.A. 6, rue Verdaine - P.O. Box 3516 1211 Geneva 3, Switzerland T +41 22 318 80 10 F +41 22 310 03 88 E email@example.com www.phoenixancientart.com
In New York
Hicham Aboutaam Bibiane Choi
Electrum, Exclusive Agent for Phoenix Ancient Art S.A. 47 East 66th Street New York, NY 10021, USA T +1 212 288 7518 F +1 212 288 7121 E firstname.lastname@example.org www.phoenixancientart.com
© Phoenix Ancient Art S.A.
Phoenix Ancient Art S.A. Geneva 6, rue Verdaine - 1204 Geneva - Switzerland T +41 22 318 80 10 - F +41 22 310 03 88
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With this 2nd edition of Crystal, Phoenix Ancient Art seeks to open the viewer’s eyes to works that are not only of great rarity and signifi...
Published on Mar 1, 2008
With this 2nd edition of Crystal, Phoenix Ancient Art seeks to open the viewer’s eyes to works that are not only of great rarity and signifi...