Basket and Fragment of an Animal
9 x 6.25 x 2.5 inches
Probably from Egypt 200-500 CE
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

This small stone work presents a basket with what appears to be the snout and front legs of an animal in motion. The basket contains ten rounded fruits (or perhaps loaves of bread) stacked in a pyramidal fashion. At both the top and the bottom of the basket are delineated rims, and the basket’s center section is carved in a slanting diagonal pattern. Significant damage has abraded the basket’s left side, though the composition is still easily readable.

To the left of the basket one finds the fragmentary animal, which is assumedly in motion towards the basket (moving rightward) due to its outstretched front legs and uplifted snout. The snout is somewhat detailed, clearly showing an open mouth with lips as well as an eye.

Because this relief is so incomplete in composition, it is most likely a fragment of a previously whole relief. The animal form is missing most of its body that appears to have been severed at a diagonal angle. A very likely candidate for the missing left half of this relief is object 1982.56 from the same collection.

Though the gap in accession numbers does not suggest a link between these two pieces, there are several clues that they originally formed one whole. Firstly, the shape of the fissure on each piece is nearly identical—so is the “grain” of the rock that is exposed on each side of this break, as well as the width (6 ¼ in). Secondly, the iconography forms a match: the forward legs and snout on 1982.52 complete the traits missing from the animal on the right in 1982.56. There even seems to be a continuation of the vegetal motif beneath the legs of the animal on the smaller fragment (1982.52). The fruit baskets on each relief are identical and the scalloped bottom edge is consistent between the two. Because of the nature in which they were broken –which divides one animal in two parts and leaves one composition that is small and unbalanced— it seems unlikely that this break was intentional.

Grace Goodwin is an Art History Major and French Minor in Colgate's class of 2013.