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Head of a ruler

Period:
Early Bronze Age
Date:
ca. 2300–2000 B.C.
Geography:
Iran or Mesopotamia
Medium:
Copper alloy
Dimensions:
13 1/2in. (34.3cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1947
Accession Number:
47.100.80
  • Description

    During the later third millennium B.C., Mesopotamia was ruled by successive territorial empires. The first—the Akkadian Empire (2350–2150 B.C.)— was centered at Agade, a city still not located by archaeologists but probably near modern Baghdad. The official language of this empire was Akkadian, a Semitic language that differed greatly from Sumerian, which previously had been the predominant language of Mesopotamia. In addition to its political and economic innovations in administering a large territory, the Akkadian court produced innovative art in a powerful and naturalistic style.


    This magnificent head portrays a king of the late third millennium B.C. Its heavy-lidded eyes, prominent but unexaggerated nose, full lips, and enlarged ears all suggest a portrait of an actual person. While the date and place of manufacture of this piece have been much debated, its close similarity to the magnificent bronze head found at Nineveh make a late third millennium date most likely. The head is cast almost solid (making it extremely heavy), but a dowel hole at the base would have served to join it to a body or other support, most likely for display in a temple setting.

  • Provenance

    1919, purchased by Joseph Brummer from R.L. Messayeh, New York; acquired by the Museum in 1947, purchased from Joseph Brummer.

  • Exhibition History

    "In the Presence of Kings," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 8–September 4, 1967.

    "Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 8–August 17, 2003.

  • References

    Illustrated London News, 10 January 1931, p. 35.

    Royal Academy of Arts. 1931. Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Persian Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, p. 7. no. 3.

    Pijoan, José. 1931. Arte del Asia occidental. Summa Artis, Historia General del Arte, vol. II. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, p. 197, fig. 280, pl. XII.

    Moortgat, Anton. 1934. Bildwerk und volkstum Vorderasiens zur Hethiterzeit. Leipzig: I. C. Hinrichs, pp. 6, 10, p. 9, pl. 8.

    Casson, Stanley. 1938/1964. "Achaemenid Sculpture." In Survey of Persian Art, edited by Arthur U. Pope. London, Vol. I, pp. 335-336, and Vol. IV, pls. 105-106.

    Andrae, Walter. 1939. "Vorderasien." In Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft. Munich: Beck, pl. 153, no. 2.

    Ackerman, Phyllis. 1940. Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art. New York: The Iranian Institute, p. 309, no. 26 (Gallery XI), no. ill.

    Pope, Arthur U. 1945. Masterpieces of Persian Art. New York: Dryden Press, pp. 17-18, pls. 24, 25.

    Diakonoff, Igor. M. 1947. "On an Ancient Oriental Sculpture [English Summary of an article in Russian]." In Musée de L'Hermitage: Travaux du Département oriental, Vol. IV, pp. 117-118, pl. 2, 3.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1948. "Review of the Year 1947." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 7 (1), Incorporating the Seventy-Eighth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Year 1947 (Summer, 1948), p.12.

    Wilkinson, Charles K. 1949. "The Art of the Ancient Near East." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 7 (7), p. 193.

    Bowlin, Angela and Beatrice Farwell. 1950. Small Sculptures in Bronze. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 5.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1952. Art Treasures of the Metropolitan. New York: H.N. Abrams, p. 218, no. 18.

    Speiser, Werner. 1952. Vorderasiatische Kunst. Berlin: Safari-Verlag, pl. 73, pp. 98-99.

    von der Osten, Hans H. 1956. Die Welt der Perser. Stuttgart: G. Kilpper, pl. 15.

    Parrot, André. 1960. Sumer. Paris: Gallimard, p. 330, fig. 406.

    Porada, Edith. 1962. Alt-Iran. Baden-Baden: Holle, pp. 55-6, fig. 38.

    Crawford, Vaughn E. 1965. "Some Notes from an Excavation." Apollo LXXXII, No. 43 (September 1965), p. 214, fig. 5.

    Porada, Edith. 1965. The Art of Ancient Iran. New York: Crown Publishers, pp. 61-62, fig. 38.

    Crawford, Vaughn E. et al. 1966. Guide to the Ancient Near East Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 23-24, fig. 36.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1967. In the Presence of Kings. New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 7.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1970. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries, exh. cat. New York: Dutton, no. 142, p. 101.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1972. Guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 47, fig. 10.

    Porada, Edith. 1975. "Iranische Kunst." In Der Alte Orient, edited by Winfried Orthmann. Propyläen Kunstgeschichte 14. Berlin: Propyläen Verlag, p. 381, fig. 284.

    Forsyth, William H. 1974. "Acquisitions from the Brummer Gallery." In The Grand Gallery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 3

    Hibbard, Howard. 1980. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Harper and Row, p. 53, fig. 107.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1980. "Excavated and Unexcavated Achaemenid Art." In Ancient Persia: The Art of an Empire (Invited Lectures on the Middle East at the Unviersity of Texas at Austin, Vol. 4), edited by Denise Schmandt-Besserat. Malibu: Undena Publications, pp. 34-35, fig. 15.

    Spycket, Agnès. 1981. La Statuaire du Proche-Orient Ancient. Leiden, Köln: E.J. Brill, pl. 172 a, b.

    Schlossman, Betty L. 1981-1982. "Portraiture in the Late Third and Early Second Milennium B.C., Part II: The Early Second Millennium." Archiv für Orientforschung 28, pp. 156-158, figs. 22-24.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1983. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 37.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 47, fig. 4.

    Braun-Holzinger, Eva Andrea. 1984. Figürliche Bronzen aus Mesopotamien. Prähistorische Bronzefunde, Abt. I, Band 4. Munich: Beck, no. 245, pp. 70-71.

    Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 6, fig. 1.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1988. Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 368-374, no. 494.

    Harper, Prudence. 1992. In The Royal City of Susa: Ancient Near Eastern Treasures in the Louvre, exh. cat. New York:The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 175-176, fig.49.

    Calmeyer, Peter. 1995. "Buchbesprechungen: Muscarella, Oscar W. Bronze and Iron. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988." Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archaologie 85 (1), p. 160.

    Lapérouse, Jean-François. 2003. "Head of a ruler." In Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, exh. cat. edited by Joan Aruz, with Ronald Wallenfels. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 136, pp. 210-212, 195.

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    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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