Horned Animal Between Two Baskets
4.5 x 14.5 inches (11.4 x 36.8 cm)
Probably from Egypt 200-500 CE
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

This late antique Egyptian relief depicts one centrally located animal flanked by two large baskets. The animal, possibly or a canine of some sort, is shown in profile. Its limbs suggest movement to the left, with its front legs outstretched and its back legs are depicted with one leg forward and one back, giving the impression that the animal is moving. The animal has a long, thick torso with a long and thin neck. The way in which the artist depicts the tail gives the impression that the animal tail is bushy. The animal has large, almond-shaped eyes and a long wrinkled snout with an open mouth. The ears and horns are reared backwards as the animal runs. Its features recall those of other animals depicted in the collections such as 1982.47.

The two baskets on each side of the animal are symmetrical and both contain an abundance of bread. The baskets have a double rim at the top and show a woven pattern. Their static nature contrasts with the movement of the animal. There also appears to be an object just under the animal’s front legs. This could possibly be a type of plant. This plants puzzling iconographic detail as well as the symmetry of the relief as a whole could lead to the questioning of its authenticity.

The breaks on the edges of the relief as well as on the surface do not interfere with the objects on the relief, which may indicate that they were deliberate breaks made by the forgers or looters. This relief is unique in the corpus of the Mayer relief in that its pigments are especially well preserved. Black lines outline the animal as well as the bread and breadbasket, accentuating the edges and grooves. This probably means that the artist intended to enhance the visibility of the objects seen from below. There is a great deal of yellow and brown earth pigments present on this relief, most likely ochres, siennas, or umbers. The well-preserved nature of the pigments may suggest that they were modern additions to the relief, although it is hard to determine if earth pigments are forgeries.

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