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Sphinx (550-540 BCE)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Sphinx (550-540 BCE).

About the Work

Title : Sphinx
Year : 550-540 BCE
Medium : Volcanic stone (nenfro)
Dimensions : 56 x 69 x 25 cm (22 1/16 x 27 3/16 x 9 13/16 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“This statue represents the elegance of high Ionian sculpture translated into an Etruscan material and Etruscan forms of expression. Like all of these monumental sculptures from Archaic Etruscan tombs, this sphinx was carved to be viewed from the direction to which the head is turned and to which the body runs at right angles.”

The sphinx is believed to have belonged to a tomb. This particular piece is found with its head facing forward, while the body is perpendicular. The nose and other parts have been slightly damaged with time.

Other Details

Sphinx 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 1984.

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

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