Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Furniture plaque: female sphinx with Hathor-style curls

Period:
Middle Bronze Age–Old Assyrian Trading Colony
Date:
ca. 18th century B.C.
Geography:
Anatolia, probably from Acemhöyük
Culture:
Old Assyrian Trading Colony
Medium:
Ivory (hippopotamus)
Dimensions:
2.87 x 2.24 in. (7.29 x 5.69 cm)
Classification:
Ivory/Bone-Reliefs
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. George D. Pratt, in memory of George D. Pratt, 1936
Accession Number:
36.70.11
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406
This figure belongs to a group of carved ivories, mostly furniture elements, probably found at the site of a palace at Acemhöyük in central Anatolia. Most of the ivories depict imagery borrowed and transformed from Egyptian sources, such as the sphinx represented by this plaque, a fantastic creature that combines a human head with a lion’s body, with or without wings. Although the bottom of the plaque is broken away, parts of the creature’s leonine hind leg and tail are still preserved. The sphinx has a hairstyle of long, curled locks similar to that worn by the Egyptian goddess Hathor. She wears a fillet across the forehead, above which three additional short curls rise. One lock is tucked behind a large ear. The eye, hollowed out to receive an inlay (now missing), and nose are prominent, and the mouth and chin are small. The overall gray color indicates that the object was exposed to considerable heat, perhaps during the destruction of the palace. A nearly identical plaque from the same group, depicting a sphinx facing left, is also in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection (36.152.2).
Acquired by the Museum in 1936, gift of Mrs. George D. Pratt, in memory of George D. Pratt.

“Egyptian Style in the Eastern Mediterranean.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 2, 1938–March 27, 1938.

"Origin and Influence, Cultural Contacts: Egypt, the Ancient Near East, and the Classical World." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, December 18, 1970–April 23, 1971.

"Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 17, 2008–March 15, 2009.

Dimand, Maurice S. 1936. "A Gift of Syrian Ivories." The Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 31 (11), p. 221.

Decamps de Mertzenfeld, Christiane. 1954. Inventaire Commenté des Ivoires Phéniciens. Paris: E. De Boccard, p. 164, pl. CXXVI, fig. 1089.

Harper, Prudence O. 1969. "Dating a Group of Ivories from Anatolia." The Connoisseur 172, p. 158, fig. 4.

Barnett, Richard D. 1982. “Ancient Ivories in the Middle East and Adjacent Countries.” Qedem 14, pl. 26a [Mislabeled as 36.70.6].

Canby, Jeanny V. 1989. “Hittite Art.” Biblical Archaeologist 15, p. 112.

Aruz, Joan and Jean-Franҫois de Lapérouse. 2008. “Furniture Support and Plaque.” In Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C., exh. cat. edited by Joan Aruz, Kim Benzel, and Jean M. Evans. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 46b, pp. 83-85.

Gilibert, Alessandra. 2011. "Die Anatolische Sphinx." In Wege der Sphinx: Monster Zwischen Orient and Okzident, edited by Lorenz Winkler-Horacek. Rahden Westfalen, Germany: Leidorf Verlag, p. 42.

Simpson, Elizabeth. 2013. “An Early Anatolian Ivory Chair: The Pratt Ivories in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” In Amilla: The Quest for Excellence, Studies Presented to Günter Kopcke in Celebration of his 75th Birthday, edited by Robert B. Koehl. Philadelphia: INSTAP Academic Press, pp. 253-257, fig. 16.37.
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