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Carved amber bow of a fibula (safety pin)

Period:
Archaic or Classical
Date:
ca. 500 B.C.
Culture:
Etruscan
Medium:
Amber
Dimensions:
length 14.00 cm.
Classification:
Miscellaneous-Amber
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.2067
  • Description

    Couple reclining on a couch, with attendant and bird

    This work ranks as the most complex carved amber surviving from ancient Italy. Preserved at its base are holes containing traces of an iron pin, indicating that the original object was a fibula. The representation shows a woman and man reclining on a couch. The woman wears a pointed hat, long cloak, and pointed shoes. In her right hand, she holds the base of a small vase, and the fingers of her left touch the mouth of the vase. Her companion is a young, beardless man with a round face. The back view shows his long hair, the modulated folds of his overgarment, and his shoes on the ground. A bird nestles at the shoulders of the couple, and a small attendant stands at their feet.

    The Morgan Amber was reputedly found at Falconara in Picene territory. The iconography of the reclining couple and ceremonial banquet spread westward from the Ancient Near East through Greece. While numerous details are Etruscan, it is impossible to identify where the artist came from and whether the figures are mortal or divine.

  • References

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1917. Handbook of the Classical Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 73, fig. 44.

    Albizzati, Carlo. 1919. "Un’ambra scolpita d’arte ionica nella raccolta Morgan." Rassegna d'arte, 19: figs. 2, 3.

    Kredel, Friedrich. 1923–1924. "“Ein archaisches Schmuckstück aus Bernstein.”." Jahrbuch des Deutsches Archäologisches Instituts, 38-39: pl. IV.

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1927. Handbook of the Classical Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 83, fig. 51.

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1930. Handbook of the Classical Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 83, fig. 51.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1936[1934]. A Guide to the Collections, Part 1: Ancient and Oriental Art, 2nd edn. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1940. Handbook of the Etruscan Collection. New York: Marchbanks Press, p. 31, figs. 97-98.

    Herbig, Reinhard and Erika Simon. 1965. Götter und Dämonen der Etrusker. Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, p. 15, pl. 19.

    Grimaldi, David A. 1996. Amber: A Window to the Past. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc, pp. 152-53.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 326, pp. 284-85, 471.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 69.

    Montanaro, Andrea Celestino. 2012. Ambre Figurate: Amuleti e Ornamenti dalla Puglia preromana. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider, p. 24, fig. 22.

    de Puma, Richard Daniel. 2013. Etruscan Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 7.48, pp. 9, 267, 270-2.

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    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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