Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Figure of a bull, ca. mid– to late 1st millennium b.c.
    Southwestern Arabia
    Bronze; H. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1947 (47.100.85)

    The bull and the double-base plinth are made separately and are light and hollow. The head is strongly sculpted with moderately-sized horns that curve slightly up and inward. The ears, also upright, are carved with creased lines. Six wavy lines depict the neck and chest and are joined in a raised ridge possibly to depict the hairline. The body is otherwise plain but the upward curving tail creates a sense of alertness in the animal.

    Bronze castings of large sculptures, as well as smaller objects, were made through most of the first millennium B.C. and the early centuries A.D. in southwestern Arabia. Among the types of animal iconography, bulls—a symbol of strength and potency—are the most common icon and can be found on funerary stelaes, seals and sculptures of the period. Bulls in alabaster with similar features—heavyset brows over the eyes and standing on either double or multilayered plinths--help date this piece to approximately the middle of the first millennium B.C. and are found in a number of sites in South Arabia. At Timna'—the capital of the Qataban kingdom and dating to the second half of the first millennium—bulls are frequently depicted in funerary relief and can also be found in a few stone statuettes. A nearly identical example in bronze—with crease lines on the neck—is known from the British Museum. The function of such sculptures is not clear, however. This bronze example fits well with the South Arabian sculptural repertoire of the mid-to late first millennium B.C.

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  • Figure of a bull, ca. mid- to late 1st millennium B.C.
    Southwestern Arabia
    Bronze; H. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1947 (47.100.85)

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