Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 4th century CE. Among the finest we have handled, this mosaic presents a half-length portrayal of a winged Cupid or Erote draped in flowing vestments of soft beige and rich brown hues, facing slightly left with a beautiful visage comprised of large, almond-shaped, hazel eyes with a well-defined lash line and further accentuated with elegant, arched brows that lead to a slender, aquiline nose, above full, closed lips - with an almost dewy complexion and a wavy, brunette coiffure that is adorned by a colorful (note the array of blue, pink, red, and green hues) wreath. Visible beyond the shoulders is a pair of prominent wings. All is set before a neutral background with the creamy beige tesserae arranged in a radiating pattern that suggests a halo or orb of light. 'Framing' the composition is a decorative geometric border, perhaps a variation on a meander, in tan, almond, chocolate brown, and black hues. Size: 24.375" L x 22.5" W (61.9 cm x 57.2 cm)
The artist of this piece was quite skilled, for the figure, vestments, and wings display subtle color gradations, thus modeling the forms in three dimensions and creating shading. One can also detect the artist's interest in capturing naturalism in the facial features and expression. Sophisticated mosaicists used a wide range of colors to shade figures and suggest volumes, and the creator of this piece was no exception. By assembling a dizzying number of tesserae (Latin for dice or cube) – artists could adjust the size and shape and produce measured gradations of color to rival the imagery of paintings.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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