Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mastiff

Period:
Kassite
Date:
ca. mid-2nd millennium B.C.
Geography:
Mesopotamia
Culture:
Kassite
Medium:
Ceramic, paint
Dimensions:
16.3 x 14.17 in. (41.4 x 35.99 cm)
Classification:
Ceramics-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Charles Engelhard Foundation Gift, 1989
Accession Number:
1989.233
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406
Dogs were regularly represented in the arts of Mesopotamia from earliest times, and were particularly popular in the later second millennium B.C. in central Babylonia. This clay mastiff is hollow on the inside. It retains traces of polychromy on its body, and remains of inlay in its eyes. The animal’s forehead wrinkles, snout, teeth, and muscular shoulders are carefully depicted. A braided collar circles the dog’s neck, and its tail is shown folded around its right hind leg. There is a hole at the top of its head, which may have held a standard in antiquity, perhaps similar to that shown in a contemporary seal carving in the Metropolitan's collection (1985.357.44).

In the ancient Near East, dogs were often associated with Gula, the goddess of healing. This dog is depicted in a watchful pose – seated, with an open mouth and forward-facing ears, now partially broken – and may have been set up as a guardian figure as well as a standard-bearer. Kassite artists were particularly skilled in sculpting clay, creating both sculptures and three dimensional brick compositions.
Before 1970s, collection of Bernard Grettner, Alsace; acquired by the Museum in 1989, purchased through Robert Haber at the sale "La Collection Bernard Grettner", Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 22-23, 1989, lot 492.
Drouot. 1989. La Collection Bernard Grettner. Auction catalogue. Paris, lot 492.

Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 120 (Jul. 1, 1989 - Jun. 30, 1990), p. 12.

Harper, Prudence O. 1990. "Dog." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 48 (2), Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1989-1990 (Autumn, 1990), pp. 6-7.
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