Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Relief: two servants bearing food and drink

ca. 358–338 B.C.
Iran, Persepolis
H. 86.5 cm
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 405
The monumental art and architecture of the Achaemenid period are best exemplified by the ruins of Persepolis, the large ceremonial capital of the empire originally built by Darius I (r. 521–486 B.C.) and expanded by his successors. Persepolis is located thirty miles northwest of Shiraz in the southwest Iranian province of Fars. There, structures like the Hall of One Hundred Columns and the Throne Room of Darius and Xerxes exhibit features characteristic of Achaemenid architecture—large square rooms, the ceilings of which are supported by many columns. Some of the columns in the Throne Room have been reconstructed and stand more than sixty-five feet high.

Most characteristic of Achaemenid sculpture are the slabs carved in low relief that decorate the various stairways leading to the ceremonial buildings. Representations of hundreds of alternating Persian and Median servants bringing food and drink for a royal feast are on the walls of several palace stairways at Persepolis. This relief fragment depicts a Persian mounting a stairway and holding a heavy water- or wineskin on a tray. Ahead of him on the top step is an armed Median holding a covered vessel. The form of the skin container and the size and style of the figures suggest that the relief derives from the time of Artaxerxes III (r. 358–338 B.C.) and adorned either the restored Palace of Darius or that called Palace H.
1933, purchased by Joseph Brummer from E. Sassoon, Paris; acquired by the Museum in 1934, purchased from Joseph Brummer.

“The Grand Gallery,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 19, 1974–January 5, 1975.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department,” MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, The Aiche Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1983.

Dimand, Maurice S. 1935 "A Persian Relief from Persepolis." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 30 (4), pp. 75-77.

Crawford, Vaughn E. et al. 1966. Guide to the Ancient Near East Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 32, fig. 49.

Nickel, Helmut. 1973. "About the Sword of the Huns and the 'Urepos' of the Steppes." Metropolitan Museum Journal 7, pp. 135-136, fig. 12.

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. 63, fig. 125.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 49, fig. 9.

Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 86.

Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 50, fig. 68.

Benzel, Kim, Sarah B. Graff, Yelena Rakic, and Edith W. Watts. 2010. Art of the Ancient Near East: A Resource for Educators. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, image 26, pp. 102-103.

Nagel, Alexander. 2010. Colors, Gilding and Painted Motifs in Persepolis: Approaching the Polychromy of Achaemenid Persian Architectural Sculpture, c. 520-330 BCE, PhD. dissertation, University of Michigan, p. 248.
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