Roman, the Levant, late Imperial Period, ca. 3rd to 5th century CE. A brilliantly executed mosaic panel depicting a peacock amidst flowering vines, the composition skillfully arranged from stone tesserae of blush red, salmon pink, sienna brown, dove grey, beige, black, and white hues. In Roman mythology, the peacock is associated with the ancient Roman goddess Juno, the queen of the gods, protector and special counselor to the state, and goddess of the sky and the stars, who created the peacock from Argus whose "hundred eyes" seen on the tailfeathers of the peacock symbolize the vault of heaven and the "eyes" of the stars. Beyond this, since the peacock replaces its feathers annually, the ancients viewed the peacock as a symbol of renewal. Size: mosaic measures 43.75" W x 38.5" H (111.1 cm x 97.8 cm); 46.375" W x 40.5" H (117.8 cm x 102.9 cm) including matrix and frame
Mosaics (opus tesellatum) are some of our most enduring images from the Roman world, exciting not only for their aesthetic beauty, but also because they reveal what Romans chose to depict and see every day decorating their private and public spaces. In the Roman province of Syria, which encompassed most of the ancient Near East/Levant, mosaics developed as a popular art form relatively late, with most finds coming from the 3rd century CE or later. Syria was one of Rome's wealthiest provinces, but it was also far removed from Rome itself and Roman culture was overlaid on enduring cultural traditions from Hellenistic Greece and the great civilizations that came before it. Antioch-on-the-Orontes (modern day Antakya, Turkey), was the capital of northern Roman Syria, and its excavations in the 1930s revealed more than three hundred mosaic pavements - of which many embellished public baths. Popular mosaic themes from this region were often mythological or religious scenes, depicting gods and goddesses. This mosaic, given its depiction of a peacock, was likely created to honor Juno, goddess of the sky and the starts, queen of the gods, and protector of the state.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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Expected losses to edges and some areas of the composition, with some nicks, abrasions, and fissures to tesserae commensurate with age. Set in a modern plaster matrix with a metal frame.