Roman, the Levant, late Imperial Period, ca. 3rd to 5th century CE. A brilliantly executed mosaic panel depicting two fierce charging bulls amidst flowering vines, the composition skillfully arranged from stone tesserae of blush red, salmon pink, sienna brown, dove grey, beige, black, and white hues. The scene is action packed, and the bulls demonstrate fabulous physicality and expression. Just look at their flexed muscles and bristling hairy coats! The bull has a significant history in the ancient world, with representations from every culture, from the Minoans, to the Egyptians, and to the Greeks and Romans. The bull was central to the Roman's cult of Mithras with their central tenant of tauroctony, the sacred slaying of the bull. Size: mosaic measures 58" W x 29.375" H (147.3 cm x 74.6 cm); 60.25" W x 31.375" H (153 cm x 79.7 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. The bull was central to the Roman's cult of Mithras with their central tenant of tauroctony, the sacred slaying of the bull.
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.