Ancient Greece, Mycenaean, ca. 14th to 13th century BCE. A fine handbuilt terracotta bull presenting a characteristically elongated tubular body and standing upon four tapering legs, with a perky tail end, and a stylized head with painted eyes, an extending cylindrical muzzle, and long curved horns. The form is also painted with orange-red linear motifs that follow the animal's contours. A very special example that conjures images of the exciting Minoan sport of bull leaping. To read more about this Minoan feat of athleticism, see the extended description below. Size: 4.25" L x 2.375" H (10.8 cm x 6 cm)
Images of bulls have been found in many forms of Minoan visual culture - stone seals, frescoes, precious gold rings, and terracotta figurines like this example. Perhaps most famous are the wall paintings depicting bull-leaping in the Neopalatial Knossos. Bull leaping has captured historians' imaginations, largely because of the enormous strength and skill it would have taken to master a wild bull. Scholars have debated and researched the specifics of the sport. Jeremy McInerney, in his article entitled, "Bulls and Bull-leaping in the Minoan World" recounted, "Sir Arthur Evans, excavator at Knossos, believed that the process consisted of four clearly defined phases as the leaper approached, grasped the bull by the horns, vaulted over onto the animal’s back, and then sprang onto the ground. Subsequent studies by A. Sakellariou and John Younger assembled evidence for variations on Evans’ schema until a range of styles was identified and associated with specific periods in Late Minoan culture." (Penn Museum's Expedition journal, Volume 53, Issue 3, 2011)
A very similar example sold at Christie's London for GBP 3,750 (~ 4832 USD) on 7 October 2010, Lot 90, Sale 5488.
Provenance: private Lewis collection, Florida, USA, acquired at Arte Primitivo.
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