On View

Profile view of Sumerian sculpture of Head of a Ewe, displayed in a temple
Head of a Ewe
Head of a Ewe
Profile view of Sumerian sculpture of Head of a Ewe, displayed in a temple

Head of a Ewe

Sumeria
Protoliterate period (c. 3500–3000 B.C.)
c. 3200 B.C.
Sandstone
5 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 6 1/8 in. (14.6 x 14 x 15.6 cm)
AP 1979.38
This realistic ewe’s head comes from a full sculpture of a sheep that was probably displayed in a temple, but its precise ritualistic purpose is unknown.
Frontal view of Female Figure by Bastis Master from the Early Cycladic Period (c. 2500–2300 B.C.)
Female Figure
Female Figure
Frontal view of Female Figure by Bastis Master from the Early Cycladic Period (c. 2500–2300 B.C.)

Female Figure

Bastis Master
Cycladic (c. 2500–2300 B.C.)
Early Cycladic II phase
c. 2500–2300 B.C.
Marble
16 1/4 x 5 13/16 in. (41.2 x 14.7 cm)
AG 1970.02
This statuette of a female figure was produced by the Early Bronze Age culture that flourished in the Cyclades Islands of Greece in the second half of the third millennium B.C.
Full view of Jar with Sculptural Rim from the Jomon period of Japan
Jar with Sculptural Rim
Jar with Sculptural Rim
Full view of Jar with Sculptural Rim from the Jomon period of Japan

Jar with Sculptural Rim

Japan
Jomon period (c. 10,500–300 B.C.)
2500–1000 B.C.
Low-fired clay
16 9/16 x 14 15/16 in. (42 x 38 cm)
APx 1974.03
Jomon, meaning “cord-marked,” refers to the impressions left from rolling braided or twisted ropes across the surface of moist clay vessels in the Neolithic period in Japan, which is thus known as the Jomon period.
Full view of Storage Jar from the China, Gansu province, Yangshao culture (c. 2500 B.C.), jars like this are known for  they are noted for their generous forms and great vitality of design
Storage Jar
Storage Jar
Full view of Storage Jar from the China, Gansu province, Yangshao culture (c. 2500 B.C.), jars like this are known for  they are noted for their generous forms and great vitality of design

Storage Jar

China, Gansu province, Yangshao culture
Neolithic period, Banshan phase (c. 2600–2300 B.C.)
c. 2500 B.C.
Low-fired earthenware painted with iron oxide and manganese pigments
H. 14 in. (35.6 cm); Diam. 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm)
AG 1987.01
Large storage jars, painted with a free hand in imaginative geometric designs, are commonly found in Neolithic tombs in Gansu province, located in west China.
Limestone tomb sculpture showing a seated court official accompanied by his wife and son. Inscriptions name the main figure as Ka-nefer and his family. The figures were originally painted and retain much of their color on the hair and eyes, with traces on the skin, garments, and jewelry.
Group Statue of Ka-nefer and His Family
Group Statue of Ka-nefer and His Family
Limestone tomb sculpture showing a seated court official accompanied by his wife and son. Inscriptions name the main figure as Ka-nefer and his family. The figures were originally painted and retain much of their color on the hair and eyes, with traces on the skin, garments, and jewelry.

Group Statue of Ka-nefer and His Family

Egypt, probably Saqqara
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 5 (c. 2465–2323 B.C.)
c. 2465–2323 B.C.
Limestone, with traces of original painted decoration
13 5/8 × 5 3/4 × 8 7/8 in. (34.6 × 14.6 × 22.5 cm)
AP 2005.03
This highly important tomb sculpture shows a seated court official accompanied by his wife and son.
Storage Jar from Neolithic period, Machang phase of China with strong pattern
Storage Jar
Storage Jar
Storage Jar from Neolithic period, Machang phase of China with strong pattern

Storage Jar

China
Neolithic period, Machang phase (c. 7000–2000 B.C.)
c. 2200 B.C.
Low-fired clay with iron oxide and manganese pigments
H. 15 in. (38.1 cm); Diam. 16 in. (40.7 cm)
AP 1985.16
Large storage jars, painted with a free hand in imaginative geometric designs, are commonly found in Neolithic tombs in Gansu province, located in west China.
Xochipala figure of a seated woman with fully modeled eyeballs with pierced pupils, parted lips revealing two rows of teeth, finely worked feet with fanned toes, and delicately incised hair fashioned into a stylized arrangement (these characteristics were typical of this regional style in Mexico)
Seated Woman
Seated Woman
Xochipala figure of a seated woman with fully modeled eyeballs with pierced pupils, parted lips revealing two rows of teeth, finely worked feet with fanned toes, and delicately incised hair fashioned into a stylized arrangement (these characteristics were typical of this regional style in Mexico)

Seated Woman

Mexico, Guerrero, Xochipala culture
Pre-Classic period (c. 1600–100 B.C.)
c. 1500–1200 B.C.
Ceramic
4 3/8 x 3 1/8 x 2 7/8 in. (11.1 x 8 x 7.3 cm)
AP 1971.04
The Xochipala figures are named after the remote West Mexican village near which all known examples have been found. The style is one of extraordinary physical presence and naturalism for its period.
Profile view of Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut in which she grasps a symbolic cobra that supports a sun disk and cowhorns and rests on a base composed of two upraised arms (the hieroglyphic sign for “Ka”)—a magical gesture intended to preserve life and ward off evil
Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut
Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut
Profile view of Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut in which she grasps a symbolic cobra that supports a sun disk and cowhorns and rests on a base composed of two upraised arms (the hieroglyphic sign for “Ka”)—a magical gesture intended to preserve life and ward off evil

Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut

Egypt, Temple of Montu (?), Armant
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Hatshepsut, c. 1473-1458 B.C.
c. 1473-1458 B.C.
Gray green schist
16 1/8 x 6 x 12 in. (41 x 15.2 x 30.5 cm)
AP 1985.02
This masterpiece of New Kingdom art portrays Senenmut, the most favored official of the dowager Queen Hatshepsut, who reigned from about 1473–1458 B.C., offering an image of Renenutet, goddess of the harvest and nourishment, on behalf of the well-being of his sovereign and in hopes of eternal blessi
Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II, which shows him holding the traditional insignia of kingship against his chest—the scepter in the form of a crook in his left hand and the flail or whip in his right.
Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II
Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II
Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II, which shows him holding the traditional insignia of kingship against his chest—the scepter in the form of a crook in his left hand and the flail or whip in his right.

Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II

Egypt, South Karnak
Dynasty 18, c. 1427–1400 B.C., and Dynasty 19, c. 1279–1213 B.C.
c. 1400 B.C., recarved for Ramesses II (the Great) c. 1250 B.C.
Red granite
40 1/2 x 18 x 15 in. (102.8 x 45.7 x 38.1 cm)
AP 1982.04
This regal figure of Amenhotep II shows him holding the traditional insignia of kingship against his chest—the scepter in the form of a crook in his left hand and the flail or whip in his right.
The heavily cast Nao Bell is ornamented on each side with eighteen conical studs arranged in three rows separated by bands of scrolling thunder pattern (leiwen) decoration and surrounded by borders of fine thread-relief. The tubular shank bears a raised collar decorated with two highly stylized animal masks (taotie) constituted by large, rounded “eyes” amid a scroll pattern.
Nao Bell
Nao Bell
The heavily cast Nao Bell is ornamented on each side with eighteen conical studs arranged in three rows separated by bands of scrolling thunder pattern (leiwen) decoration and surrounded by borders of fine thread-relief. The tubular shank bears a raised collar decorated with two highly stylized animal masks (taotie) constituted by large, rounded “eyes” amid a scroll pattern.

Nao Bell

China, possibly Hunan province
Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1046–771 B.C.)
c. 10th century B.C.
Bronze
19 x 13 1/2 x 10 in. (48.3 x 34.3 x 25.4 cm)
AP 1995.03
This impressive, heavily cast nao bell is ornamented on each side with eighteen conical studs arranged in three rows, separated by bands of scrolling thunder pattern (leiwen) decoration, and surrounded by borders of fine thread-relief.
Upper thighs, torso, and head of Standing Figure with simplified, boldly flowing contours.
Standing Figure
Standing Figure
Upper thighs, torso, and head of Standing Figure with simplified, boldly flowing contours.

Standing Figure

Mexico, Olmec culture
Middle Pre-Classic period (900–300 B.C.)
c. 900–400 B.C.
Jadeite
5 1/2 x 2 11/16 x 1 1/8 in. (13.9 x 6.9 x 2.9 cm)
AP 1981.07
The Olmecs produced the first complex culture in Middle America. Their settlements saw the establishment of the first sacred centers composed of plazas, mounds, and pyramids; and the ceremonial centers contained colossal basalt sculptured heads that portrayed secular leaders as well as deities.
Pair of Winged Deities are fragments of two such full-length figures enacting a magic purification or protective ritual, in which winged griffin-demons (apkallu, “sages”) or winged anthropomorphic deities, holding ritual “buckets” and pinecone-shaped objects, flank a “Sacred Tree” that they sprinkle with holy water or pollen.
Pair of Winged Deities
Pair of Winged Deities
Pair of Winged Deities are fragments of two such full-length figures enacting a magic purification or protective ritual, in which winged griffin-demons (apkallu, “sages”) or winged anthropomorphic deities, holding ritual “buckets” and pinecone-shaped objects, flank a “Sacred Tree” that they sprinkle with holy water or pollen.

Pair of Winged Deities

Assyria (Iraq)
Reign of Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 B.C.)
c. 874-860 B.C.
Gypsum
a: 36 1/4 x 27 9/16 in. (92 x 70 cm) b: 35 11/16 x 28 15/16 in. (90.7 x 73.5 cm)
AP 1981.04 a,b
The Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (reigned 883–859 b.c.) at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) is the earliest of the surviving royal residences of the Assyrian kings, lavishly decorated with monumental gateway figures and reliefs, whose discovery in the mid-nineteenth century created a sensation through
Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer is a one-handled oil jug showing Eros, the god of love, in his role of archer. It shows artist’s typical poise and balance while retaining the potentiality for sudden movement: the figure is set frontally, his weight on his right, forward-moving foot, while his head turns back in profile as he draws his bow.
Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer
Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer
Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer is a one-handled oil jug showing Eros, the god of love, in his role of archer. It shows artist’s typical poise and balance while retaining the potentiality for sudden movement: the figure is set frontally, his weight on his right, forward-moving foot, while his head turns back in profile as he draws his bow.

Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer

Attributed to Brygos Painter
Greek (active c. 490–470 B.C.)
Late Archaic period (500–480 B.C.)
c. 490–480 B.C.
Terracotta
H. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm); Diam. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)
AP 1984.16
The image on this lekythos (one-handled oil jug) marks the earliest known appearance of Eros, the god of love, in his role of archer. It predates by forty to fifty years the representation of the subject on one of the east metopes of the Parthenon.
Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus (exterior) and a Maenad (interior)
Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus (exterior) and a Maenad (interior)

Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus (exterior) and a Maenad (interior)

Douris (painter)
Greek (active c. 500–460 B.C.)
Late Archaic period (500–480 B.C.)
c. 480 B.C.
Terracotta
H. 5 in. (12.7 cm); Diam. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
AP 2000.02
On the exterior of this cup, one of the finest surviving vases of the early Classical period, we witness the gruesome death of Pentheus, a mythical king of Thebes who had offended the god Dionysos by denying his divinity and forbidding his worship.
detail of Young Female Attendant, which shares the ceremonious and solemn air of the maidens from the famous frieze of the Parthenon
Young Female Attendant
Young Female Attendant
detail of Young Female Attendant, which shares the ceremonious and solemn air of the maidens from the famous frieze of the Parthenon

Young Female Attendant

Greece, Attica (?)
Late Classical period (400–300 B.C.)
c. 340–330 B.C.
Marble
46 x 18 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (116.9 x 47 x 26.7 cm)
AP 1972.03
This sculpture is probably one of a group of votary figures that originally accompanied the statue of a goddess. Although it dates from a century later than the maidens from the famous frieze of the Parthenon, it shares their ceremonious and solemn air.
Head is an unadorned yet elegant version of a Nok style. Head  shows relatively simple features delineated in the smooth surface and a caplike coiffure reaches from ear to ear. The eyes, nostrils, and a spot beneath the covered ears are pierced.
Head
Head
Head is an unadorned yet elegant version of a Nok style. Head  shows relatively simple features delineated in the smooth surface and a caplike coiffure reaches from ear to ear. The eyes, nostrils, and a spot beneath the covered ears are pierced.

Head

Africa, Northern Nigeria, Nok culture
c. 500 B.C.–A.D. 500
c. 285 B.C.–A.D. 515
Terracotta
12 3/4 x 6 3/4 x 7 in. (32.4 x 17.2 x 17.8 cm)
AP 1996.04
This unadorned yet elegant head represents a strain of Nok art differentiated from the typically more energized Nok style, perhaps of a type produced in another area. Sculpted in the round, it is most likely broken at the neck from a full figure.

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