Cypriot; Said to be from the necropolis at Golgoi
Limestone; H. 33 3/4 in. (88.19 cm)
The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2499)
On this limestone funerary stele, elegant sphinxes are positioned back-to-back with their heads turned so that they can be seen in three-quarter perspective. The calm beauty of each creature's head, the form of the palmettes, and the egg-and-dart molding that decorates the base of the platform reflect Greek art of the fifth century B.C.
There are extensive remains of red paint on the sphinxes, palmettes, and molding. A darker pigment was used to delineate the feathers on the bodies of the mythical creatures. The knotted sash around the shaft of the stele, which also retains much of its original red paint, is of the same type as those depicted on Athenian white-ground lekythoi of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.