200 AD to 300 AD
4.25″ (10.8cm) high x 5.75″ (14.6cm) wide
This magnificent bronze sculpture of a panther and her young offspring is a masterpiece of Roman naturalism. Her ferocious head has been rendered in a fashion characteristic of Roman felines. Her brows are clenched together as she snarls, head held high in the air with fangs exposed. We can almost hear her mighty roar. Judging from this intimidating posture, we can assume she is attempting to defend herself and her offspring who stands at her side in a similar posture, as if mimicking the mother. Her body has been rendered with meticulous attention to detail such as her swollen teats, a sign that she has been recently feeding her young. In addition, the texture of her fur has been replicated by a series of wavy engraved lines. The panther was considered sacred to the god of wine, Bacchus. The fact that this panther wears a harness with an attachment loop behind the neck indicates that she was meant to draw the chariot of Bacchus during his triumphant return from Asia, a popular scene that was often depicted on sarcophagi during the Roman era.
For related examples compare:
Philippe Verdier, Ancient Bronzes: a Selection from the Heckett Collection, Pittsburgh, 1965, no. 75 (Sotheby, Parke Bernet, New York, May 21st, 1977, lot 57)
Robert Fleischer, Die römischen Bronzen aus Österreich, Mainz, 1967, no. 249, pls. 123-125.
David G. Mitten and Suzannah Doeringer, Master Bronzes from the Classical World, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1967, p. 139, no. 142, and p. 290, no. 285.Login to view price