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Wing Brooch

Date:
2nd century
Geography:
Made in Pannonia
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Silver, gold, four carnelians
Dimensions:
Overall: 7 11/16 x 1 15/16 x 1 9/16 in. (19.6 x 4.9 x 3.9 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line:
Purchase, Alastair B. Martin, William Kelly Simpson, Scher Chemicals Inc., Levy Hermanos Foundation Inc., Shelby White, and Max Falk Gifts, in honor of Katharine R. Brown, 1998
Accession Number:
1998.76
  • Description

    The richly decorated fibula, wrought in silver, is an exceptional example of a relatively rare type of brooch typical of those made in the Roman border province of Pannonia, on the Danube. These objects are called "wing fibulae" because of the winglike extensions that flank the knob at the bend of the bow. On this work, the knob is decorated with a zigzag pattern, and the two wings are adorned with two small knobs. A punchwork design extends from the knob along the length of the bow. As is typical of the few other surviving examples of this quality, the large, trapezoidal catch plate is covered with gold foil, except where it is pierced with elaborate patterns. Twisted gold wire laid down in wavy lines and scroll-and-heart motifs decorate the foil. Four carnelians frame the two intricate openwork patterns near the tip of the catch plate—one of linked circles and one of linked hearts. Rounded and rosette-shaped silver studs also ornament the surface. Except for minor losses to the gold foil, the fibula is complete and in excellent condition. On the basis of burial and pictorial evidence, wing fibulae like this one were worn by women in pairs, on the shoulder, with the intricately pierced catch plates protruding above their robes, creating a relatively delicate, patterned effect.

  • Provenance

    Private Collection, the Netherlands; [ Wolfgang Wilhelm, Dreieich, Germany (sold 1998)]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
469961

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