This magnificent winged-bull embodies the distinctive style of Achaemenid applied art. The body of the bull is composed of graceful, highly stylised segments such as the repetitive spiral curls on the body and the concentric bands of the eyelid. As with the winged deity (previous lot), the beast is posed in a typically rhythmic manner with the forelegs stretched in front and the body transfigured by an upswept wing. Animal motifs feature heavily in the repertoire of the Achaemenid artistic tradition, with bulls and lions being associated with strength and power. Similarly, backward-looking animals, as with this example, can be seen modeled in a variety of mediums, cf. a silver vessel in the Teheran Museum with handles in the form of backward-looking ibex published in P. Amiet, Art of the Ancient Near East, New York, 1980, p. 458, no. 715.
The two Vidal appliques both showcase another distinctive feature of Achaemenid art, which is the marked uniformity between the applied arts and the major arts. Some of the monumental carved processional reliefs at Persepolis bear a striking resemblance to the gold appliques both thematically and stylistically, cf. nos. 706-708 of Persian heroes combating winged bulls in P. Amiet op. cit, and A27978 in the Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago, for a relief of a winged griffin. As H. J. Kantor notes in, “Achaemenid Jewelry in the Oriental Institute,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, 1957, p. 2., "This (uniformity) is greater than in the arts of other ancient Near Eastern cultures...there is really no distinction between decorative and major art, save one of scale." Thus, these appliques not only exemplify the highest achievements of Persian goldsmiths, but also illustrate the full achievement of Achaemenid art as a whole.
The closest parallel for this applique is a roundel of a winged lion in the Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago, Inv. no. A28582, dating to the same period.