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A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL
A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL

CIRCA 2ND CENTURY A.D.

Details
A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL
Circa 2nd Century A.D.
Composed of minute tesserae in multiple shades of red, green, black, gray and tan on a cream ground, the rectangular panel centered by an elegant water-filled krater with a trumpet-shaped foot, wide flaring mouth and vertical voluted handles, a parrot and a greenfinch perched on either side of the rim, the greenfinch dipping to take a drink, its tail uplifted, a chaffinch on the upper left pecking at a floral, a large partridge below, its wing unfolded, facing right and pecking at foliage, and a pileated woodpecker bottom right, facing left, with additional foliage in the field
44 in. x 32¾ in. (111.8 cm. x 83.2 cm.)
Provenance
Private Collection, circa 1980.

Lot Essay

The small size of the tesserae and the subtle color gradations combine to give a painterly quality to this work, especially the shadowing, the detailed feathering of each bird, the highlights of the krater and its rippling water. Similar compositions were popular throughout the Roman world, and all can be traced back to Hellenistic originals. The most famous of these depicts doves perched on the rim of a bowl, thought to be based on the work of Sosus at Pergamon, mentioned by Pliny and preserved in several copies. See for example the version from Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, now in the Capitoline Museum, Rome, no. 27 in Dunbabin, Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World. For a more closely related scene of various birds around a krater compare the mosaic from the House of the Sun Dial at Antioch, p. 194 in Cimok, ed., Antioch Mosaics.
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