Lot 25
  • 25

A Greek Bronze Griffin Protome, Samos(?), circa late 7th Century B.C.

125,000 - 175,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • A Greek Bronze Griffin Protome, Samos(?)
  • Bronze
  • Height: 5 1/16 in.; 12.9 cm
from the shoulder of a bronze cauldron, with serpentine neck flanged for attachment at the base, round fold under the jaws, and gaping beak with pointed tongue, large almond-shaped eyes recessed for inlay, and ribbed eyebrows, the long pointed ears (one missing) erect, a knobbed stem projecting above the forehead, the scales and long spiral locks on the neck and behind the eyes finely engraved.


American Private Collection, acquired in 1964
William Herbert Hunt Collection (Sotheby’s, New York, The Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection, Highly Important Greek Vases, The William Herbert Hunt Collection, Highly Important Greek, Roman and Etruscan Bronzes, June 19th, 1990, no. 21, illus.
Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman


David Gordon Mitten and Suzannah F. Doeringer, Master Bronzes from the Classical World, Mainz on Rhine, 1967, catalogue of the exhibition at The Fogg Art Museum, the City Art Museum of Saint Louis, and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 4th, 1967-June 30th, 1968, no. 65, illus.
Hans Volkmar Herrmann, Die Kessel der orientalisierenden Zeit. Zweiter Teil. Kesselprotomen und Stabdreifüsse (Olympische Forschungen, XII), Berlin, 1979, p. 105 and note 23
Dietrich von Bothmer, Jane M.Cody, Jiri Frel, Arthur Houghton, Catharine Custus Lorber, and Margaret Ellen Mayo, Wealth of the Ancient World, The Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt Collections, Fort Worth, 1983, catalogue of the exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the High Museum, Atlanta, June 25th, 1983-February 9th, 1986
Ulrich Gehrig, Die Greifenprotomen aus dem Heraion von Samos (Samos 9), Bonn, 2004, p. 40, and note 161

Catalogue Note

Cf. Sotheby's, New York, December 2nd and 3rd, 1982, no. 159, Greek Art of the Aegean Islands, nos. 135-139, and Boston, Bronzes, no. 407. Also compare Mertens, Greek Bronzes, no. 9, for an earlier example. Dr. Mertens draws attention to the following passage from Herodotos: "The Samians took six talents...and made therewith a bronze vessel, like an Argolic krater, with griffins' heads projecting from the rim all around; this they set up in their temple of Hera, supporting it with three colossal kneeling figures of bronze, each seven cubits high" (The Persian Wars 4.154).

Based on the size, form, and ear and scale details, Ulrich Gehrig (op. cit. 2004, p. 40) writes that the closest known example to the present protome is in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (inv. no. 1889,801 [G. 406]: U. Jantzen, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. Athenische Abteilung, vol. 73, 1958, p. 30, no. 46c, Beilage 32, fig. 4). The Oxford protome was said to come from Lebanon when the Museum acquired it, a claim questioned by H. V. Herrmann (op. cit. p. 105, note 21).