A Roman bronze figurine of a bull, ca. 1st century CE
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Description: striding bull on a rectangular flanged pedestal. Right front leg is advanced with head turned slightly to the left, incised hatch marks appear on the partial remnants of horns atop his head and above the ears. Deep eye sockets and an expressive mouth line make for detailed facial features. Two protrusions on the backside remain where a looped tail once was. Downward oriented grooves show a textured neck and pronounced chest.
Bull figurines are perhaps one of the most popular type of animal figurine within the Roman world. Apart from the common threat of bull imagery in the ancient realm, with its fertility symbolism, bull figurines may have been considered appropriate because the animal itself was the quintessential animal of sacrifice. Another possibility is that the bulls were considered appropriate for specific cults, for instance those of Dionysus or Jupiter.
Original museum accession number (309238) written in white pigment on reverse of base.
For a related example, see The Hilprecht Collection of Greek, Italic and Roman Bronzes in the University of Pennsylvania Museum by P. Gregory Warden, plate 13, figure 118.
Condition: Some appendages missing, including both horns and a right ear, looped tail is no longer present, otherwise intact and in great condition. A few areas of greenish-brown patina.
Dimensions: Height 4.7 cm (1.8 inches)
Provenance: Forming part of the Lenman/Stohlman collection assembled by the Washington D.C. socialite Miss Isobel H. Lenman (1845 - 1931), in the early 1900’s. Loaned and accessioned by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., between 1916 and 1921 where it was exhibited until her death in 1931. Thereafter, the collection was returned to her heirs and sold around 1937 to Dr. Martin Stohlman, remaining with the Stohlman family until 2011.