Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Relief with a Bird

10th–11th century
Made in vicinity of Salerno, Italy
Overall: 24 5/8 × 17 1/4 × 1 3/8 in., 30lb. (62.5 × 43.8 × 3.5 cm, 13.6kg)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Tianaderrah Foundation and Austin B. Chinn Gifts; Larry and Ann Burns Gift, in honor of Austin B. Chinn; Audrey and Martin Gruss Foundation, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, David H. Koch, Harry and Linda Macklowe, and Charlotte C. Weber Gifts, 2013
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
This relief, cut down from a larger composition, shows an imaginary bird, a cock with a griffin-like head, set within foliage. It is from Salerno, where it was said to have been built into the masonry of a church. It was reused at a later date, and cut into its present form. While its original function is unknown, it may have been part of a chancel screen, a low wall in front of the sanctuary of a church. The exotic and orientalizing bird reflects the rich interchange of design motifs between the Islamic, Sasanian, Byzantine, and south Italian cultures in the century around 1000.
Said to be from a church in Salerno, Italy (until 1920s or 1930s); Kurt Cassirer, Berlin (by early 1930s); Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jones, Yorkshire, England (1936–2013); [ Sam Fogg, Ltd., London (sold 2013)]
Vikan, Gary. Catalogue of the Sculpture in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection from the Ptolemaic Period to the Renaissance. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1995. pp. 87–90, fig. 35.1a, b.

Cahn, Walter, and Linda Seidel. Romanesque Sculpture in American Collections: Volume 2, New York and New Jersey, Middle and South Atlantic States, the Midwest, Western and Pacific States. Turnhout: Brepols, 1999. p. 116.

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