Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Marble capital and finial in the form of a sphinx

ca. 530 B.C.
Greek, Attic
Marble, Parian
H. with akroterion 56 1/8 in. (142.6 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Munsey Fund, 1936, 1938
Accession Number:
11.185d, x
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 154
This capital and sphinx originally crowned the tall grave marker of a youth and a little girl on view in this gallery. A plaster copy has been set on the monument itself.

The sphinx, a mythological creature with a lion's body and a human head, was known in various forms throughout the eastern Mediterranean region from the Bronze Age onward. The Greeks represented it as a winged female and often placed its image on grave monuments as guardian of the dead. This sphinx, which retains abundant traces of red, black, and blue pigment, was carved separately from the capital on which it stands. Its plinth was let into a socket at the top of the capital and secured by a metal dowel and a bed of molten lead. The capital is in the form of two double volutes (spiral scrolls) designed like a lyre. The front face of the capital also had a painted design of palmettes and volutes.
Said to be from Attica

Thimme, Jürgen. 1976. Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.: Ausstellung unter d. Patronat des International Council of Museums ICOM im Karlsruher Schloss vom 25. Juni-10. Oktober 1976. no. 16, pp. 30-31 , Karlsruhe: Müller.

Reuterswärd, Patrik. 1980. Studien zur Polychromie der Plastik. p. 78, Stockholm: Bokförlaget Svenska.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 16, pp. 30-1, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bodel, John P. and Stephen Tracy. 1997. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A Checklist. p. 184, Rome: The American Academy in Rome.

Milleker, Elizabeth J. 2003. Light on Stone: Greek and Roman Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Photographic Essay. pp. 95-6, pl. 6, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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