Two Large Animals Bracketing a Basket of Fruit
21.25 x 6.25 x 4 inches
Probably from Egypt 200-500 CE
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

This Late Antique Egyptian relief features two large animals on either side of a large basket of disc-shaped objects. The animals’ limbs extending in opposite directions indicate motion, a bounding movement towards the right. One casts its head back over its shoulder while the other is unfortunately severed at the neck due to a break in the relief. These animals possess muscular physiques (particularly powerful haunches), long necks, and thin tails. Their build suggests a type of canine.

The basket of fruit resting in-between is perfectly symmetrical and provides a stark contrast to the dynamic animal figures. Ten rounded objects are evenly stacked inside in a pyramid, which perhaps represent either fruit or bread. The basket’s structure consists of upper and lower rims with a center area carved in a diagonally striped pattern. The continuation of the upper rim behind the fruit implies three-dimensionality.

Lurking behind the animals and the basket are forms that are more difficult to clearly identify. It appears that foliage wraps its way from the bottom of the relief to the top, fitting neatly behind the animals. It is difficult to determine if this plant is an acanthus scroll, trees, or a more abstract vegetal carving. The top of this relief is flat while the bottom is finished in a scalloped pattern.

The break on the right side of this relief seems unintentional, given its slanting shape and roughness. Another relief from this same collection, 1982.52, appears to be a very close match to this relief given a match in iconography as well as the shape of the fracture, among other evidence (see Catalogue Entry for 1982.52 for further discussion).

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