Fragment with the Triumph of Dionysos and the Labors of Herakles
Made in Egypt
Wool, linen; plain weave, tapestry weave
12.62 in. high 11.87 in. wide (32 cm high 30 cm wide)
Purchase by subscription, 1889
Not on view
In the central medallion, Dionysos and his wife, Ariadne, ride in a chariot driven by a putto and drawn by panthers. Herakles, carrying a club, accompanies the couple. The ancient hero appears again in the frame, where his Twelve Labors are depicted. Although five of the framing scenes are lost, an identical square preserved in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, allows this fragment to be reconstructed. Several of the labors are easily identifiable: Herakles capturing the Cretan bull, traveling to the underworld and returning with the three-headed dog Kerberos, taming the mares of Diomedes, and slaying the Lernaean hydra. Herakles is included among the bacchanalian thiase (followers of Dionysos), and, like Dionysos, he appears frequently in late Roman and early Byzantine art, particularly on textiles, silver, and ivory.
[ Theodor Graf, Vienna, Austria, by 1887–89; sold to R.W. Eltzner for MMA]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Textiles of Late Antiquity," December 14, 1995–April 7, 1996, no. 11.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Late Antique Taste and Clasical Themes," November 1, 2008–November 1, 2009.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Classical Imagery in the Early Byzantine Period," November 18, 2008–January 18, 2009.
Stauffer, Annmarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 11, p. 44, ill. (b/w).