Bronze cauldrons set on tripods or conical stands were among the most spectacular votive gifts dedicated in Greek sanctuaries from the eighth to the sixth centuries B.C. Cast-bronze griffins' heads often decorated the cauldron rims; they projected outward from the shoulder of the vessel on long necks made of hammered or cast bronze. Some of the dedicated cauldrons were colossal. The Greek historian Herodotus describes one made for King Kroisos of Lydia that could hold 2,700 gallons and another dedicated on the island of Samos that was supported by huge kneeling figures. Over six hundred bronze griffins' heads from cauldrons are known today; most have been found at the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia or at that of Hera on Samos. This enormous head is one of the finest.
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Title:Bronze head of a griffin
Date:third quarter of the 7th century BCE
Dimensions:H. 10 3/16 in. (25.8 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971
Chance find by Th. Karachalios, supervisor of the Olympia Museum, in the bed of the Kladeos river at Olympia, near the gymnasium, in December 1914; in 1937/38 published as no longer to be found at the Olympia Museum; [by 1936, with Theodore Zoumpoulakis, Athens and Paris]; [Summer 1936, purchased by Joseph Brummer from Th. Zoumpoulakis]; [1936-1948, with Joseph Brummer, New York]; January 15, 1948, purchased by Walter C. Baker from J. Brummer; 1948-1971, collection of Walter C. Baker, New York; acquired in 1972, bequest of Walter C. Baker.
1915. "Chalkos kephale gryos ex Olympias." Archaiologikon deltion, vol. 1: pp. 88–89.
Buschor, Ernst. 1936. Die Plastik der Griechen. pp. 19–20, Berlin: Rembrandt Verlag.
Kunze, Emil and Hans Schleif. 1937/38. "Kessel und Kesselteile." Bericht über die Ausgrabungen in Olympia, vol. 2. p. 114 n. 2, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.
von Bothmer, Dietrich and René d'Harnoncourt. 1950. Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: An Exhibition from the Collection of Walter Cummings Baker, Esq. no. 8, p. 7, pl. 2, New York: Walter Cummings Baker.
Hanfmann, George M.A. 1954. Ancient art in American private collections : A loan exhibition at the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University. no. 198, cover, Cambridge: Harvard Art Museums.
von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1961. Ancient Art from New York Private Collections: Catalogue of an Exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, December 17, 1959–February 28, 1960. no. 128, p. 33, pls. 44, 46–47, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1975. "Greek and Roman Art." Notable Acquisitions (Metropolitan Museum of Art), No. 1965/1975: p. 118.
Mertens, Joan R. 1985. "Greek Bronzes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 43(2): no. 9, pp. 20–21.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 20, pp. 34–35, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mattusch, Carol. 1988. Greek Bronze Statuary: From the Beginnings through the Fifth Century B.C.. pp. 36–37, fig. 3.8, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Mattusch, Carol. 1990. "A Trio of Griffins from Olympia." Hesperia, 59(3): pp. 549–60, pl. 91a–d.
Howard Kathleen. 1994. Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide: Works of Art Selected by Philippe De Montebello pp. 8, 13, 20–21, 30–31, 38, fig. 9, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mertens, Joan R. 2002. "An Early Greek Bronze Sphinx Support." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 37: pp. 30–1, fig. 18.
Mertens, Joan R. 2002. "An Early Greek Bronze Sphinx Support." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 37: pp. 30–31, fig. 18.
Gehring, Ulrich. 2004. Die Greifenprotomen aus dem Heraion von Samos. p. 351, Bonn: Habelt.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 36, pp. 53, 415–16, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Hemingway, Seán and De Abramitis. 2015. "The Use of Inlays in Early Greek Bronzes." Artistry in Bronze : The Greeks and Their Legacy : XIX International Congress on Ancient Bronzes, Jens M. Daehner, Kenneth Lapatin, and Ambra Spinelli, eds. pp. 118–19, fig. 14.4, Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute.
Hemingway, Seán. 2021. How to Read Greek Sculpture. no. 4, pp. 54–55, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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