Highlight of the Week: Archive

Thu 09.02. - Wed 15.02. "Lion's head and tip of paw"

This head of a roaring lion is very similar to 1st- and 2nd-century AD Graeco-Roman models but several elements of style and technique provide unquestionable proof that it was produced by a local workshop: the inlaid eyes, the mane treated in graphic style, astonishing moustache and eyebrows in high relief as well as the two roughly sketched small tubes featuring the round ears recall the stylization of lion heads discovered in South Arabia.

  • Lion's head and tip of paw, ca. 2nd century AD, Bronze, H: 23 cm, B: 32 cm T: 25 cm, Najran
    Lion's head and tip of paw, ca. 2nd century AD, Bronze, H: 23 cm, B: 32 cm T: 25 cm, Najran
  • detailed view, Lion's head
    detailed view, Lion's head
  • detailed view,  Tip of paw
    detailed view, Tip of paw

This head was probably soldered to a body in the round or in high relief as the asymmetry of the mane suggests. It is not surprising that no other parts were found, due to the South Arabian bronze-casters' technique of preserving the clay core inside their sculptures: while it did spare material it also made the walls of bronze sculptures very thin and therefore particularly fragile. This item was a stray find in the early 20th century, so we can imagine that thin fragments of bronze, doubtless corroded, did not attract the attention of the prospectors and that the remains of the sculpture were totally overlooked and simply left on the spot.

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