July 13, 2010

Large Ancient Greek Amphora with Herakles

A recent acquisition of the Merrin Gallery, this ancient Greek, black-figured amphora from Athens depicts the apotheosis of Herakles (the Greek name for Hercules). Quite simply a beautiful and very large Attic amphora, dated 520-510 B.C.

On the front it is decorated with Athena stepping into her quadriga and holding a spear, Herakles holding a club and bow, Dionysos holding vine branches, and Hermes leading the team. On the back it depicts Apollo Kitharoidos accompanied by a feline and flanked on either side by a goddess and satyr.

For a discussion of these figures, please visit the Merrin Gallery's page on this 2,500 year old Greek amphora.

Upon closer observation, there are inscriptions in the field, a palmette-and-lotus chain above each scene, rays above the foot, ivy on the sides of the handles, and the details have been added in red and white by the skillful and renowned Antimenes Painter.

July 9, 2010

Wooden Mask from Ancient Egypt

This very beautiful face mask comes from the inner coffin of a large ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, dated at around 1305-946 B.C. The red paint was painted over a layer of gesso and linen. Recently acquired by the Merrin Gallery, the broad oval face has a delicately carved mouth indented at the corners.

The lips are outlined and almost form a smile. The nose is straight with recessed nostrils. The eyes are set wide apart and the cosmetic lines are emphasized in black, which of course was the custom of the day, but also makes this ancient work of art very powerful. The face is very sensitive and the artist who sculpted it, over 3,000 years ago, was clearly a master artist.

Samuel Merrin presents another recently acquired, interesting ancient Egyptian piece. But for more information on this polychrome wooden mask, please visit the Merrin Gallery's website.

July 5, 2010

An Ancient Egyptian Shabti

In tune with Sam Merrin's recent comment in regards to Tutenkhamun's exhibition at the Met, the Merrin Gallery has acquired an ancient Egyptian piece from the 26th dynasty, dated 570-526 B.C., under the reign of Amasis II.

It is a shabti (funerary figurine) depicting the Wab priest to the King (his titles include: Royal Chancellor of Lower Egypt, Administrator of the Palace, son of Schepen-Bastet). The figure holds the traditional hoe, pick, and seed-sack.

The head, wearing a braided beard and striated tripartite wig, has a finely modeled face whose eyebrows and cosmetic lines are illustrated through relief. The faience body is embossed with eight lines of inscription.

Such shabtis of Neferibresaneith are among the most beautiful ones of the Late Period. The piece is made entirely from faience, a notable ancient Egyptian material.

The tomb of Neferibresaneith was found at Saqqara, south of the funerary complex of King Userkaf, in 1929, and was fully excavated in the late 1940s. In all, 366 shabtis were found, most of them resting on the lid of the stone sarcophagus under the carbonized wood box.

More information about the ancient Egyptian shabti of Neferibresaneith can be found at the Merrin Gallery.

Update: Another parallel acquisition of an ancient Egyptian artwork by the Merrin Gallery.

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