A Roman Marble Winged Lion-Griffin, ca. 1st - 2nd century CE
With its head held erect in ever-watchful alertness, hooked beak gaping wide as if screaming a warning, this griffin is the perfect visual embodiment of its fearful mythological subject. These hybrid monsters with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle were inspired in classical Greco-Roman times by the descriptions of beaked quadruped dinosaur fossils in gold deposits of Central Asia. Symbol of divine power and authority, this majestic creature comes to life, rising from its great hind legs, the powerful musculature of its body rippling with enormous strength; its front paws curled, almost relaxed, hiding deadly talons. The eagle head held aloft, cocked to the left for the bright, keen eye to better observe the viewer, the great sickle-shaped wings with their ornate pattern of incised feathers, are raised, almost touching and ready to fly. There is a handsome crest on the long neck and a pronounced rounded forelock at the top of the head.
Although carved in the round in white marble, the left side is unfinished and undoubtedly not intended for view, for it lacks the superb detailing and soft high sheen finish of the right. Despite this lack of definition, this complete composition signifies wealth and luxury, portraying a complex interplay of fierceness and resilient strength.
Dimensions: Height: 4 1/2 inches (11.43 cm), Length: 6 inches (15.2 cm)
Condition: Incomplete, with scattered areas of surface encrustation, losses to rear legs, front right paw, and tip of the left wing. Custom mounted on museum quality stand.
Provenance: Private Israeli collection assembled in the 1980s, thereafter with Sasson Gallery, Israel, 2000s, thereafter a private NYC collection.
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