Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mosaic with a Peacock and Flowers

3rd–4th century
Made in probably North Africa
Roman or Byzantine
Tesserae mounted in metal frame
Overall: 19 5/16 x 22 11/16 x 1 3/16 in. (49 x 57.7 x 3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Kirkor Minassian, 1926
Accession Number:
Not on view
This mosaic, probably part of a much larger floor mosaic, shows a peacock among flowers. The peacock was a popular subject for Roman and Byzantine artists, often used to represent paradise, renewal, and spring. Byzantines might have thought the peacock an appropriate symbol for the season, because its elaborate feathers grew each spring. Associating the peacock with heavenly paradise was an extension of the Byzantine vision of earthly paradise—many wealthy citizens were known to have kept peacocks to roam about the flowers and trees of their gardens.
Kirkor Minassian, New York and Paris (until 1926)
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