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Relief panel

ca. 883–859 B.C.
Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)
Gypsum alabaster
92 1/4 x 92 x 4 1/2 in. (234.3 x 233.7 x 11.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The palace rooms at Nimrud were decorated with large stone slabs carved in low relief, with brightly painted walls and ceilings and sculptural figures guarding the doorways. The throne room contained narrative scenes commemorating the military victories of Ashurnasirpal, while in other areas of the palace were protective figures and images of the king and his retinue performing ritual acts.

    On this relief slab the king Ashurnasirpal II wears the royal crown, a conical cap with a small peak and a long diadem. He holds a bow, a symbol of his authority, and a ceremonial bowl. Facing him, a eunuch, a "beardless one," carries a fly whisk and a ladle for replenishing the royal vessel. The peaceful, perhaps religious character of the scene is reflected in the dignified composure of the figures.

  • Provenance

    1840s, excavated by Sir Austen Henry Layard; 1849, presented by Austen Layard to Lady Charlotte Guest for Canford Manor, Dorsetshire, England; 1919, purchased by Dikran Kelekian from Ivor Churchill Guest; 1927, purchased by J. D. Rockefeller; acquired by the Museum in 1930 (but not accessioned until 1932), gift of J. D. Rockefeller.

  • References

    Budge, Ernest A.W., and Leonard W. King. 1902. Annals of the Kings of Assyria. Volume I. London: Trustees of the British Museum, pp. 212-221.

    Winlock, Herbert E. 1933. "Assyria: A New Chapter in the Museum's History of Art." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 28 (2), p. 21, 23, fig. 3.

    Gadd, Cyril J. 1936. The Stones of Assyria. London: Chatto and Windus, p. 235f.

    Weidner, Ernst F. 1939. Die Reliefs der assyrischen Könige. Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 4. Part 1: Die Reliefs in England, in der Vatikan-Stadt und in Italien. Berlin: Im Selbstverlage des Herausgebers, p. 136.

    Porada, Edith, and Susanna Hare. 1946. The Great King...King of Assyria: Assyrian Reliefs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 23, pls. II-III.

    Wilkinson, Charles K. 1952. "Some New Contacts with Nimrud and Assyria." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 10 (8), p. 237.

    Stearns, John B. 1961. "Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II." Archiv für Orientforschung 15, pp. 21, 59, pls. 4, 87.

    Crawford, Vaughn, Prudence O. Harper, and Holly Pittman. 1980. Assyrian Reliefs and Ivories in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 21, 28-29, 31, figs. 13, 21-22, 24.

    Meuszynski, Janusz. 1981. Die Rekonstruktion der Reliefdarstellungen und ihrer Anordnung im Nordwestpalast von Kalhu (Nimrud) I. Baghdader Forschungen, Bd. 2. Mainz am Rhein: Philipp von Zabern, pp. 41, 45, 84, pl. 8,2.

    Harper, Prudence O., et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), p. 8, fig. 3.

    Russell, John M. 1997. From Nineveh to New York. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 21-22, 63-64, 109-112, figs. 8, 91.

    Cifarelli, Megan. 1998. "Gesture and Alterity in the Art of Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria." The Art Bulletin 80 (2), pp. 210-211, fig. 1.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History