Parian marble; H. 25 1/4 in. (64.01 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1942 (42.11.35)
This marble relief, which originally included two facing lions attacking a bull, once decorated the pediment of a small temple or civic building in ancient Greece. A joining fragment, with the forepart of one lion and the middle of the bull, was found near the Olympeion in Athens in 1862, and is now in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. The subject, one of the most popular in Archaic art in all media, allowed the artists to infuse a symmetrical composition with violent movement. The scene may also represent the conflict between civilized life and nature, a theme symbolized later by struggles between the Greeks and the Centaurs. The moment depicted in this architectural fragment is particularly savage, made all the more immediate by the depth of carving. The artist has rendered the lion's mane and its victim's dewlap and delicate head with clear and well-ordered details.