Measurements: 3.5 cm length, 2.9 cm height


Description: A Roman cast bronze statuette of a panther, standing on three legs with fore-paw raised and resting on a rounded object, with green patina. The object might symbolise the world of the Roman Empire, with the animal assuming a protecting and nurturing position. Its facial features are delicately detailed: the eyes, nostrils mouth, and ears are still clearly evident, and the brows are clenched together, indicating that the panther is snarling. So too are the panther's paws, which all feature defined claws. The animal's posture is defensive, perhaps protecting nearby offspring. Its tail gently arches downwards.


Marble or bronze statues of panthers served as tomb guardians in antiquity. This belief was in part based on the observation of how aggressively the panther defends its cubs. In Greek and Roman art the panther is represented accompanying Bacchus and his followers in their processions, being one of the favoured animals of the god. A figurine such as this piece might be brought to a sanctuary and installed there as an offering for the deity. Indeed the Romans kept small shrines, lararia, for private worshiping in their homes, in which small statuettes were placed.


Reference: The State Hermitage Museum

Bonhams sale 10763, lot 251.


Period: 2nd - 4th century AD


Condition: Very fine, intact, with an attractive green patina over the whole.

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