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Mosaic Pavement Fragment with a Peahen (5th-6th centuries)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Mosaic Pavement Fragment with a Peahen (5th-6th centuries).

About the Work

Title : Mosaic Pavement Fragment with a Peahen
Year : 5th-6th centuries
Medium : Stone and glass tesserae embedded in mortar
Dimensions : 114 cm h x 103 cm w x 1.6 cm d (44 7/8 x 40 9/16 x 5/8 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The piece presented here is a fragment of a much larger one. It depicts a a peahen standing near a tree. Flower motifs decorate the negative space around these main elements. The work shows the subject matter that inspired artists and craftsmen of the time – which include objects from nature.

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“Fragments of a larger monument or building, they have survived millennia because of their relatively durable material, stone. They were created with a purpose in mind, to fulfill specific functions and make concrete visual statements in particular settings, including palaces, tombs, and sanctuaries.”

Other Details

Mosaic Pavement Fragment with a Peahen is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 3460. It is part of the museum’s collection of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art – Art of the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East. The piece has been housed at the  Museum since 2001.


To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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