Dog with Foliage
12 x 7 x 2.5 inches (30.5 x 17.8 x 6.4 cm)
Probably from Egypt 200-500 CE
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

This relief depicts an animal, possibly a dog, among densely-carved foliage. The dog seems to be moving from left to right, indicated by the angles of the legs, but its head is turned to look directly behind itself. The motif of the animal looking backward is one encountered on a number of the Mayer reliefs, including objects 1982.57 and 1982.59. The almond-shaped eye of the dog protrudes from its head rather than being cut away. The base of the animal’s back where it connects to the legs is unnaturally thin and appears disproportionate to the bulging chest and larger head.

The foliage peeks out from above and below the dog’s body. The bottom of the relief has a long rectangular space that was left unadorned.

The only visible color left on this relief is the black outlines of the dog and foliage and the pigment used to emphasize the muscles, mouth, nose and toes as well as the leaves of the foliage.

Dog with Foliage is among the more deeply carved reliefs in the collection, with the top protruding over the bottom. The purpose of this protrusion may have been to enhance the relief’s legibility to a viewer looking up at it from below. This would suggest that it was originally installed high up on a wall. Reliefs 1982.48 and 1982.49 also display this type of deep carving.

The right bottom corner is broken, and a large chip is missing. Whether this occurred when it was being removed from its original site or in transit is unknown. It did happen before it was framed, because the frame is built around the shape of the existing break. The frame roughly follows the contours of the relief’s edge, and is made with four slats of medium-brown wood and held together with glue. It is also only one of two of the reliefs framed prior to being acquired to the Picker. It is one of three late antique Egyptian reliefs given to the Picker Art Gallery by Herbert Mayer ‘29 in 1966 (See Item 1966.1.884) the rest of the collection was given 16 years later in 1982. It is hard to know what this means; one possibility is that these two were perhaps displayed in Mayer’s gallery on some occasion before to he donated them to Colgate in 1966.

Morgan Roth '13 is an Art and Art History major at Colgate Univeristy