Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 3rd century CE. In the Classical World, the panther was an animal associated with Bacchus (Dionysos) - the Olympian god of wine, agriculture, pleasure, theater, and reckless abandon. The exotic nature of the panther suited his carefree nature. This bust presents the wild feline mid roar with an open mouth full of sharp fangs and a lagging tongue! He looks upward, perhaps toward Bacchus (Dionysos) with wide-open almond-shaped eyes, a broad nose with flaring nostrils, and laid back ears. A ring of fur with skillfully delineated wavy locks runs from ear to ear around his neck. Size: 7.75" L x 4.375" W x 9.875" H (19.7 cm x 11.1 cm x 25.1 cm); 11.875" H (30.2 cm) on included custom stand.
Artists in ancient Greece and Rome depicted Dionysos (Bacchus) riding a magnificent panther. For example, a wonderful Greek mosaic from Pella (ca. 4th century BCE) depicts Dionysos riding a panther (https://www.theoi.com/Gallery/Z12.1.html). Then there is the marvelous marble sculpture of Dionysus with Panther (ca. 2nd century CE) at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (https://www.friendsoftheuffizigallery.org/dionysus-with-panther/). In addition, another marble sculpture depicting Dionysos with a panther (ca. 150 BCE to 100 CE) is in the esteemed collection of the Yale University Art Gallery (https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/7103).
Provenance: private Texas, USA collection; acquired in 1906 in Greece by A. Nascou (great-grand daughter) who purchased it from Mr. A.T. Gaines
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A bust perhaps from a larger sculpture. Expected surface wear with old nicks/chips to peripheries of ears, chin, snout, neck/neckline, and other high-pointed areas as shown. The red-hued areas are a result of exposure to iron-rich soil.