Roman Bronze Lid with Swan

£ 395.00

A beautiful ancient Roman bronze amphoriskos lid in the shape of a swan. The bird is depicted sitting on the flat platform of the lid, its thin neck beautifully curved and acting as a handle. Particular attention has been paid to the head and the tail feathers of the animal. The lid itself is decorated with a incised hatched motif. Beautiful green, blue and brown patination is visible on the surface.

Date: Circa 1st-4th century AD
Provenance: ‘The Ancient Menagerie Collection’ formerly the property of a Cambridgeshire lady, collected since the 1990s and acquired from auctions and dealers throughout Europe and the USA, now ex London collection.
Condition: Excellent condition. The surface is covered with an attractive patination. Attached to a custom-made black perspex stand.
Product Code: RES-222
Category: Tags: ,

During the Roman period, vessels were made in great quantity and manufactured in diverse materials, including glass, pottery, stone and metal. Metal-based vessels were usually manufactured from copper alloys, widely available in the ancient Mediterranean. The properties of bronze allowed vessels to be manufactured by either casting or hammering, thus enabling a relatively fast production. Amphoriskoi were delicate flasks used primarily to store oil and expensive perfume. Normally produced in glass, these vessels are occasionally found in bronze.

It is possible that the swan lid was meant to be seen as a representation of the Roman king of the gods and more specifically the story of Leda. According to Mythology, Jupiter (Zeus) took many different forms in order to seduce and mate with his desired partners. He took the form of a swan to seduce Leda, a beautiful Spartan queen who he greatly admired. Seeking protection from a pursuing eagle, the swan fell into her arms. Their consummation took place on the banks of the river Eurotas. Resulting from the union with the god was the generation of two eggs, from which hatched Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra and Castor and Pollux. Leda and the swan was a popular subject in ancient art, strongly linked with Homer’s Iliadic epic poem.

To learn more about everyday bronze items in the Classical World, visit our relevant post: Everyday Items in the Classical World.

Weight 35.10 g
Dimensions L 3 x W 3 x H 4 cm



Southern Europe

Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, item 1756,0101.36

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