Ancient Near East, probably Parthian, ca. 150 BCE to 225 CE. A handsome pair of solid bronze handles in the form of two wild felines - most likely leopards given their incised spotted coats - cast via the lost wax (cire perdue) technique. The leopards are delineated in lively poses, dramatically leaping with arched backs, outstretched paws, and raised heads. Note their animated expressions with those large eyes, prominent snouts, and open mouths as if roaring to announce their presence. In addition, their slender bodies have long sinuous tails, collars around the necks, and incised claws. The grand arched integral fittings that each leopard places his front paws upon along with the curved triangular lower integral fittings at the opposite ends suggest that these handles were intended for a large vessel, akin to a hydria. An amazing pair - impressive for their size, artistry, expressive quality, and gorgeous green patina! Size: The slightly larger handle measures 6.625" L x 6" W x 10.375" H (16.8 cm x 15.2 cm x 26.4 cm); 10.75" H (27.3 cm) on included custom stand.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Richard Wagner collection, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, acquired in the 1960s
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One of the handles has a restored tip to the upper fitting with repatination over the restored tip to blend with the attractive age patina. Both show expected surface wear with a few old minute nicks commensurate with age, but incised and modeled details are still vivid.