Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Bronze head of a griffin

third quarter of the 7th century B.C.
H. 10 3/16 in. (25.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 150
From Olympia

Bronze cauldrons set on tripods or conical stands were among the most spectacular votive gifts dedicated in Greek sanctuaries from the eighth to the sixth centuries B.C. Cast-bronze griffins' heads often decorated the cauldron rims; they projected outward from the shoulder of the vessel on long necks made of hammered or cast bronze. Some of the dedicated cauldrons were colossal. The Greek historian Herodotus describes one made for King Kroisos of Lydia that could hold 2,700 gallons and another dedicated on the island of Samos that was supported by huge kneeling figures. Over six hundred bronze griffins' heads from cauldrons are known today; most have been found at the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia or at that of Hera on Samos. This enormous head is one of the finest.
From Olympia

von Bothmer, Dietrich and René d'Harnoncourt. 1950. Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: An Exhibition from the Collection of Walter Cummings Baker, Esq. no. 8, p. 7, pl. 2, New York: Walter Cummings Baker.

von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1961. Ancient Art from New York Private Collections: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, December, 17, 1959-February 28, 1960. no. 128, p. 33, pls. 44, 46-47, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1975. "Notable Acquisitions, 1965-1975." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, : p. 118.

Thimme, Jürgen. 1976. Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.: Ausstellung unter d. Patronat des International Council of Museums ICOM im Karlsruher Schloss vom 25. Juni-10. Oktober 1976. no. 20, pp. 34-35, Karlsruhe: Müller.

Mertens, Joan R. 1985. "Greek Bronzes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 43(2):

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 20, pp. 34-5, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mattusch, Carol. 1988. Greek Bronze Statuary: From the Beginnings through the Fifth Century B.C.. pp. 36-7, fig. 3.8, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Mattusch, Carol. 1990. "A Trio of Griffins from Olympia." Hesperia, 59(3): pp. 549-60, pls. 91 a-d.

Howard Kathleen. 1994. Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide: Works of Art Selected by Philippe De Montebello pp. 8, 13, 20-21, 30-31, 38, fig. 9, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mertens, Joan R. 2002. "An Early Greek Bronze Sphinx Support." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 37: pp. 30-1, fig. 18.

Gehring, Ulrich. 2004. Die Greifenprotomen aus dem Heraion von Samos. p. 351, Bonn: Habelt.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 36, pp. 53, 415-16, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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