Greece, 6th to 5th century BCE. A striking cast bronze object in the form of a griffin head clutching a thick bronze ring in his beak. The ring swings freely and could have acted as a door knocker or possibly as a handle for a casket, chest, or even a sarcophagus. The griffin head is fierce, with ears and down-curved beak emphasized. A flowing mane surrounds the head and the griffin also has a rhinoceros-style horn atop its head. The horn and the back of the figure have an incredible cornflower blue and pale green patina brought on by azurite and malachite. Comes with custom stand. Size: 3.75" W x 7.05" H (9.5 cm x 17.9 cm); height on stand: 7.85" (20 cm).
The griffin, half eagle and half lion, was a fierce symbol of divine power. The tradition was long lasting - we know of examples from ancient Iran and Egypt that are from ca. 3000 BCE - and the animal continued to appear in classically-inspired art into the early modern period. This item, with its fine design and extensive use of bronze, would have been made for someone very elite in the society. See a similar example from the Roman period featuring a lion at the RISD Museum (Mary B. Jackson Fund 2003.106).
Comes certified that it is not recorded as stolen or missing with The Art Loss Register.
Provenance: Ex-Private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Morkramer Collection, Germany, 1990s.
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