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Openwork plaque with sphinxes

Period:
Neo-Assyrian
Date:
ca. 9th–8th century B.C.
Geography:
Syria, probably from Arslan Tash (ancient Hadatu)
Culture:
Assyrian
Medium:
Ivory, gold foil
Dimensions:
H. 2 1/2 x L. 4 1/4 in. (6.4 x 10.8 cm)
Classification:
Ivory/Bone-Reliefs-Inscribed
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1957
Accession Number:
57.80.4a, b
  • Description

    This ivory plaque may have come from the Neo-Assyrian building at the outpost of Arslan Tash in Syria. While the subject of the recumbent winged sphinx with wig, broad collar, and lotus flower under the front paw is an Egyptian convention, the facial type is Syrian in style—oval face, small mouth, and receding chin. Often in the Syrian style, single figures are shown in profile and juxtaposed in symmetrical compositions for large pieces of furniture. This is the case here with the two sphinxes, back to back, forming parts of two separate scenes, perhaps flanking trees with counterparts that are now missing. The seated sphinx has sharp features and wears a cap, very different from the Egyptian-style types: he may be a male figure. The sharply cut, tiered wings of both figures are also characteristic of this style.

  • Provenance

    Acquired by the Museum in 1957, purchased from Elie Borowski, New York.

  • References

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1957. "Additions to the Collections." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (2), Eighty-Seventh Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1956-1957 (Oct., 1957), p. 67.

    Harper, Prudence O. et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 17.

  • See also
    Who
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    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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