Lion and Animal Running Through Foliage
13.5 x 5.25 x 3.25 inches
Probably from Egypt 200-500 CE
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

Beneath the border that tops this deeply carved relief, two animals appear to be running through dense shrubbery. Like many of the other reliefs in this collection, the two animals are shown in profile, extending their legs in a similar direction as if chasing one another. This relief, however, is different in that there is no interaction between the two animals. While the lion moves forward confidently, the animal behind him seems to be looking back at another figure, suggesting that the relief originally continued to the left; perhaps another animal was once present, meeting this animal's gaze. The leaves arching towards the right reinforces this idea of directing the viewers’ eyes to read the scene from left to right.

The two animals paired with the dense vegetation leave no space un-carved. If it were not for the deeply drilled circular eye of the animal to the left and the prominent scale-like mane of the lion, the animals could almost get lost within the shrubbery. In fact, the lion’s curved tail, which accommodates the bend in the leaf, further reinforces the fluidity between the animals and their surroundings. Even though the foliage seems to proliferate indiscriminately throughout the space, upon careful examination one can recognize an alternating pattern between the leaves and the animals, which brings symmetry to the composition. The right edge of the relief appears to be a sharp, man-made cut, while the worn break of the left edge seems unintentional. This relief is also much darker in comparison to the other reliefs in this collection. However, this dissimilarity could simply be due to the different storage conditions of the reliefs.

Nicole Vilanova, Class of 2013, Concentration in Art and Art History.