Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Libyan Sibyl

Artist:
William Wetmore Story (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1819–1895 Vallombrosa)
Date:
1860; carved 1861
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
53 x 27 3/4 x 45 1/2 in. (134.6 x 70.5 x 115.6 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Erving Wolf Foundation, in memory of Diane R. Wolf, 1979
Accession Number:
1979.266
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 700
"The Libyan Sibyl," which Story described as “my anti-slavery sermon in stone,” was inspired by events leading up to the Civil War. Oracle in hand, the Libyan Sibyl, eldest of the legendary prophetesses of antiquity, foresees the terrible fate of the African people. This premonition is suggested by the heroic figure’s state of brooding cogitation. Her costume includes an ammonite-shell (so named for the Egyptian god Amun) headdress, its crest decorated with the tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew consonants that denote the Supreme Being. The seal of Solomon, with its interlocking triangles indicating the interrelationship of the natural and spiritual worlds, hangs from her beaded necklace.
Signature: [on rolled text]: [cursive] W. W. Story- / Roma 1861-
Charles Morrison, Berkshire, England, 1862–1978; [Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, April 21, 1978, no. 101]; Erving Wolf Foundation, until 1979
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