Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Tufa head of sphinx or siren

ca. 550–525 B.C.
Etruscan, probably Vulcian
H.: 9 in. (22.9 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1924
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 170
This large head, made of volcanic stone, probably represents a sphinx or siren. Statues of both mythical creatures, usually depicted by the ancients with human female heads and winged animal or bird bodies, were often placed as guardians near the entrances to Etruscan tombs. The large winged lion on display in this gallery is a better preserved example of this type of stone sculpture. The style of this female head, with its almond-shaped eyes, Archaic smile, and wig-like hair arrangement is strongly reminiscent of Greek, especially Ionian examples. A number of related sculptures, all associated with ancient tombs at Vulci, are in other collections. One of the closest parallels for the Museum's head is in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1925. "Recent Classical Accessions: Early Terracotta Sculptures and Vases." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 20(1): pp. 14-5, fig. 2.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1940. Handbook of the Etruscan Collection. p. 13, fig. 45, New York: Marchbanks Press.

von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1978. Antichnoe iskusstvo iz muzeia Metropoliten, Soedinennye Shtaty Ameriki: Katalog vystavki. no. 82, pl. 18, Moscow: Sovetskii Khudozhnik.

de Puma, Richard Daniel. 2013. Etruscan Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 4.23, p. 66, New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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