Limestone funerary stele (shaft) surmounted by two sphinxes

Period: Classical

Date: last quarter of the 5th century B.C.

Culture: Cypriot

Medium: Limestone

Dimensions: Overall: 34 3/4 x 26 15/16in. (88.2 x 68.5cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76

Accession Number: 74.51.2499


On this limestone funerary stele, elegant sphinxes are positioned back-to-back with their heads turned so that they can be seen in three-quarter perspective. The calm beauty of each creature's head, the form of the palmettes, and the egg-and-dart molding that decorates the base of the platform reflect Greek art of the fifth century B.C.
There are extensive remains of red paint on the sphinxes, palmettes, and molding. A darker pigment was used to delineate the feathers on the bodies of the mythical creatures. The knotted sash around the shaft of the stele, which also retains much of its original red paint, is of the same type as those depicted on Athenian white-ground lekythoi of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.