Marble capital and finial in the form of a sphinx

Greek, Attic

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 154

This capital and sphinx originally crowned the tall grave marker of a youth and a little girl on view in this gallery. A plaster copy has been set on the monument itself.

The sphinx, a mythological creature with a lion's body and a human head, was known in various forms throughout the eastern Mediterranean region from the Bronze Age onward. The Greeks represented it as a winged female and often placed its image on grave monuments as guardian of the dead. This sphinx, which retains abundant traces of red, black, and blue pigment, was carved separately from the capital on which it stands. Its plinth was let into a socket at the top of the capital and secured by a metal dowel and a bed of molten lead. The capital is in the form of two double volutes (spiral scrolls) designed like a lyre. The front face of the capital also had a painted design of palmettes and volutes.

#834. Marble Capital and Finial in the Form of a Sphinx

Marble capital and finial in the form of a sphinx, Marble, Parian, Greek, Attic

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