Overall: 3 9/16 x 9 7/8 x 3 3/4 in. (9.1 x 25.1 x 9.5 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1947
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
The motif of Eros sleeping on the skin of the Nemean lion was popular in Roman times, especially in funerary sculptures. Images of Eros with Herakles' lion skin and weapons were an allegory for the triumph of love over brute strength. On the sides of the box are Erotes holding garlands and bulls' heads, an ancient sign of fertility. These small silver boxes must have held objects of great value to their owner. The iconography attests to the continuing popularity in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire—even as Christianity increased in importance—of images drawn from pagan cults of the classical world.
Said to have been found in Tartus, Syria; [ Fahim Joseph Kouchakji, New York (sold 1944)]; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1944–sold 1947)]
Miner, Dorothy, ed. Early Christian and Byzantine Art: An Exhibition Held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 1947. no. 363, p. 82, pls. L, LI.
Pushkin Museum and State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-prikladnoe iskusstvo ot pozdneĭ antichnosti do pozdneĭ gotiki: Iz sobraniĭ muze︠i︡a Metropoliten, Nʹ︠i︡u Ĭork i Khudozhestvennogo Instituta, Chikago. Moscow: Pushkin Museum, 1990. no. 2, p. 10.
State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-prikladnoe iskusstvo ot pozdneĭ antichnosti do pozdneĭ gotiki. St. Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum, 1990. no. 2, pp. 12-13.
Evans, Helen C., Melanie Holcomb, and Robert Hallman. "The Arts of Byzantium." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 58, no. 4 (Spring 2001). p. 9.