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A silver skyphos with cupids
PROPERTY FROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF JULIAN SHERRIER
A silver skyphos with cupids

ROMAN OR GANDHARA, CIRCA LATE 1ST CENTURY B.C. - EARLY 1ST CENTURY A.D.

Details
A silver skyphos with cupids
Roman or Gandhara, circa late 1st century B.C. - early 1st century A.D.
The solid cup with thick, straight walls and the stepped rim with a shallow groove, encased in a partially preserved repoussé relief of cupids, one pouring from a cup and the other holding a duck, interspersed with a column, trees and a krater, on a separately made outsplayed ring foot, a separately cast horizontal thumb plate attached to the casing with vertical ring handle below, its upper surface engraved with foliate motifs framed by scrolling, palmettes and rosettes, with duck heads at each side along the rim
6 in. (15.2 cm.) diameter excluding handles
4¼ in. (10.8 cm.) high
Provenance
Private Collection, England, prior to 1979
Literature
F. Baratte, East and West: A Central Asian Silver Hoard from the Parthian Era, 2002, p. 27-30, fig. 10-11

Condition report

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Lot Essay

This skyphos originally depicted four cupids engaged in Bacchic activities, a fitting subject for a wine cup. The missing fragment of this relief is published in E. Errington, ed., Crossroads of Asia, 1992, p. 95. The fragment shows two cupids interspersed with trees. One cupid is holding a staff in the crook of his arm and a bunch of grapes, and to his left is part of tree that is continued on the present example. The second cupid has a pillar with a fluted basin on a pedestal behind him, and is facing a head of Silenus on a low pedestal. Beyond is another tree with a dog turned to the right, and the wing of the cupid that is still extant on the cup.

The handle plate ornament, with scrolling and naturalistic duck heads, derives from Early Imperial silver from Pompeii and elsewhere, and continues into the 2nd and 3rd centuries. For related ornament on a patera handle of the 1st century, from the House of Menander in Pompeii, see L. Stefanelli, L'Argento dei Romani, Vasellame da Tavola e D'Apparato, 1990, no. 148. For similar ornament on a 2nd century casserole handle found at Chatuzange in 1888, now in the British Museum, see F. Baratte, et al., Tresors D'Orfevrerie Gallo-Romains, 1989, no. 192.

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