Roman, the Levant, late Imperial Period, ca. 3rd to 5th century CE. A wonderful stone mosaic depicting an antlered stag in profile with laid back ears, a large dreamy eye, and very long antlers. The composition is comprised of square stone tesserae in hues of black, grey, golden beige, russet red, and dusty rose against a creamy white ground. The stag was beloved by the goddess Diana and this mosaic may have been created to honor the goddess of the hunt, the moon, wild animals, the woods, and nature at large. Size: mosaic measures 45.125" W x 19.5" H (114.6 cm x 49.5 cm); 50.625" W x 25.125" H (128.6 cm x 63.8 cm) including matrix and metal 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 example depicts an animal most often associated with Diana, the goddess of the hunt.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-private New York, USA collection
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Losses to edges and areas of the composition as shown. Expected surface wear with nicks, abrasions, and some fissures. Set in a modern plaster matrix with a few hairline fissures to the matrix as shown.