Lion Attacking Prey (with Foliage)
5.5 x 13.5 x 3 inches
Probably from Egypt 200-500 CE
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

This late antique limestone relief depicts a lion attacking its prey with a large plant motif to the left. The prey appears to have horns, possibly identifying it as an antelope, goat, oryx, or ibex, but most likely representing a gazelle. The short horns and long ears of the prey are similar to those of the animal depicted on 1982.54.

In the center of the composition, the lion is portrayed in profile. The artist makes evident the strength and musculature of the predator, best seen in the carved lines on the hind legs and the defined abdomen. The lion’s front paw is outstretched, grabbing the gazelle, and the lion’s jaw comes down to seize the gazelle by the haunch. Thus, the artist depicts the climax of the lion’s hunt as it captures its prey. The gazelle has its front leg lifted, portraying movement toward the edge of the piece, as if it were trying to run away. Unfortunately, breakage and delamination, a type of deterioration where the layers of the limestone begin to flake off, have made the specific details of the scene more ambiguous and difficult to read.

The foliage on the left is divided into three stalk-like forms. The middle plant has fewer leaves and is topped by some type of berry or fruit, perhaps a pomegranate or artichoke. The foliage grows out of the lower left corner, and the top of the leftmost plant, which frames the piece, has been slightly damaged.

The bottom border is adorned with a register of lozenge shaped forms. The outermost edges are rough and damaged, perhaps evidence of the relief’s removal from a larger architectural frieze where it would have been placed above the viewer, and thus seen from below.

Ashlee Eve, Class of 2014, is an Art History major and Psychology minor.