Couple reclining on a couch, with attendant and bird
This work ranks as the most complex carved amber surviving from ancient Italy. Preserved at its base are holes containing traces of an iron pin, indicating that the original object was a fibula. The representation shows a woman and man reclining on a couch. The woman wears a pointed hat, long cloak, and pointed shoes. In her right hand, she holds the base of a small vase, and the fingers of her left touch the mouth of the vase. Her companion is a young, beardless man with a round face. The back view shows his long hair, the modulated folds of his overgarment, and his shoes on the ground. A bird nestles at the shoulders of the couple, and a small attendant stands at their feet.
The Morgan Amber was reputedly found at Falconara in Picene territory. The iconography of the reclining couple and ceremonial banquet spread westward from the Ancient Near East through Greece. While numerous details are Etruscan, it is impossible to identify where the artist came from and whether the figures are mortal or divine.
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Title:Carved amber bow of a fibula (safety pin)
Period:Archaic or Classical
Date:ca. 500 BCE
Dimensions:3 5/16in. (8.4cm) Other: 5 1/2 x 1 1/4in. (14 x 3.1cm)
Credit Line:Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Said to have been found near Ancona, Italy
From before 1912 and until 1913, collection of John Pierpont Morgan Sr.; 1912, on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (P.M.1426); 1913-1917, estate of J.P. Morgan; acquired in December 1917, gift of J.P. Morgan.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1914. Guide to the Loan Exhibition of the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection. p. 6, New York.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1917. Handbook of the Classical Collection. p. 73, fig. 44, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ducati, Pericle. 1922. Storia Della Ceramica Greca. pp. 240ff, Firenze: Fratelli Alinari.
Kredel, Friedrich. 1923–1924. "“Ein archaisches Schmuckstück aus Bernstein.”." Jahrbuch des Deutsches Archäologisches Instituts, 38-39: pl. IV.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1927. Handbook of the Classical Collection. p. 83, fig. 51, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Gressmann, Hugo. 1927. Altorientalische Texte und Bilder zum Alten Testament. p. 66, fig. 206, Berlin: Mohr.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1930. Handbook of the Classical Collection. p. 83, fig. 51, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sauer, Hertha. 1930. "Die archaischen etruskischen terracottasarkophage aus Caere. Ph.D. diss." Ph.D. Diss. p. 27. University of Leipzig.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1936. A Guide to the Collections, Part 1: Ancient and Oriental Art, 2nd edn. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1940. Handbook of the Etruscan Collection. p. 31, figs. 97–98, New York: Marchbanks Press.
Neutsch, Bernhard. 1956. "Archäologische Grabungen und Funde in unteritalian." Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, 71: p. 370 n. 307.
Bandinelli, Ranuccio Bianchi. 1958. Enciclopedia dell'Arte Antica, Classica e Orientale, Vol. 1. p. 313, fig. 449, Rome: Instituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.
Poulsen, Vagn. 1962. Etruscan Culture, Land and People: Archeological Research and Studies Conducted in San Giovenale and Its Environs by Members of the Swedish Institute in Rome. fig. 383, New York: Columbia University Press.
Herbig, Reinhard and Erika Simon. 1965. Götter und Dämonen der Etrusker. p. 15, pl. 19, Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.
Bonfante, Larissa. 1986. Etruscan Life and Afterlife: A Handbook of Etruscan Studies p. 249, fig. VIII–26, Detroit: Wayne State University.
Gill, David and Christopher Chippindale. 1995. "The 96th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America." American Journal of Archaeology, 99(2): p. 355.
Grimaldi, David A. 1996. Amber: A Window to the Past. pp. 152–53, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 326, pp. 284–85, 471, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. p. 69, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Montanaro, Andrea Celestino. 2012. Ambre Figurate: Amuleti e Ornamenti dalla Puglia preromana. p. 24, fig. 22, Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider.
de Puma, Richard Daniel. 2013. Etruscan Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 7.48, pp. 9, 267, 270–2, New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2020. ART = Discovering Infinite Connections in Art History. p. 085, New York: Phaidon Press.
Hemingway, Seán. 2021. How to Read Greek Sculpture. p. 62, fig. 32, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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