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Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim

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Silver box with sleeping Eros

Date:
4th century
Culture:
Roman or Byzantine
Medium:
Silver
Dimensions:
Overall: 3 9/16 x 9 7/8 x 3 3/4 in. (9.1 x 25.1 x 9.5 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1947
Accession Number:
47.100.33
  • Description

    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.

  • Provenance

    Said to have been found in Tartus, Syria; [ Fahim Joseph Kouchakji, New York (sold 1944)]; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1944–sold 1947)]

468195

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