Exhibitions/ Art Object

Eagle Censer

Date:
8th–10th century
Geography:
Made in Eastern Mediterranean
Medium:
Bronze, cast in parts, pierced, and engraved
Dimensions:
11 x 7 in. (28 x 17.8 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork
Credit Line:
Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités Égyptiennes, Paris (E 11708)
Not on view
Three related incense burners (in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Malcove Collection, University of Toronto Art Centre, University of Toronto, and Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités Égyptiennes, Paris) with ornate domed lids are covered with openwork foliate decoration. Created centuries apart, they illustrate a common domestic object gradually evolving under Byzantine and Islamic rule. Their decoration evokes plenty, the triumph of good over evil, and the promise of eternal life—ideas that occur frequently in the art and inscriptions of the Byzantine and the Islamic worlds.
This censer, covered with a vine scroll, has an eagle with a snake in its beak as a finial. Possibly symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, the motif and the vine scrolls are drawn from the Byzantine tradition. Islamic influence is evident primarily in its construction from a flat sheet of metal.