Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Vessel terminating in the forepart of a lion, Achaemenid, 5th century b.c.
    Iran
    Gold; H. 6.7 in. (17 cm)
    Fletcher Fund, 1954 (54.3.3)

    Horn-shaped vessels ending in an animal's head have a long history in the Near East as well as in Greece and Italy. Early Iranian examples are straight, with the cup and animal head on the same plane. Later, in the Achaemenid period, the head, or animal protome, was often placed at a right angle to the cup, as in this piece. In the manufacture of this gold vessel, several parts were invisibly joined by brazing, which demonstrates superb technical skill. The upper band of the vessel is decorated with 136 feet of twisted wire in 44 even rows, and the roof of the lion's mouth is raised in tiny ribs. Typical of Achaemenid style, the ferocity of the snarling lion has been tempered and restrained by decorative convention. The lion has a crest running down his back; his mane has the disciplined appearance of a woven material; and his flanks are covered by an ostrich plume. The inclusion of the plume, a departure from convention, suggests that this lion is winged and has some supernatural significance.

    Related


    On view: Gallery 405
    Move Separator Print
    Close
  • Vessel terminating in the forepart of a lion, Achaemenid, 5th century B.C.
    Iran
    Gold; H. 6.7 in. (17 cm)
    Fletcher Fund, 1954 (54.3.3)

    Move
    Close