A maenad holding a wine pitcher and Dionysos with panther skin
Imperial Period, Hadrianic
about A.D. 120
Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens
Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), no. 032.
Overall: 79 x 58cm (31 1/8 x 22 13/16in.) Mount (3/16" thick contoured steel base plate/two side securement tabs): 0.5 x 65.6 x 10.2 cm (3/16 x 25 13/16 x 4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble from Mt. Pentelikon near Athens
Greek Classical Gallery (Gallery 215C)
The marble relief depicts a maenad identified by the fawn skin over her left shoulder and the giant fennel staff (thyrsos) in her left hand, which is partially concealed by the torso of the male figure. She holds a wine pitcher her right hand as if to pour its contents into the two-handled cup (kantharos) held by Dionysos who carries the skin of a leopard over his left arm, waits to receive his drink from his special vessel, suggesting that the maenad is taking part in the ritual entertainment of the god (theoxenia). From myth, we know that Erigone, the daughter of Ikarios – the first man to learn the skill of wine-making from Dionysos – gave hospitality (xenia) to the god, for which she was gifted a fawn skin, thereby initiating her into the Dionysiac cult.
Harvard Lab No. HI749: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.46 / delta18O -6.41, Attribution - Pentelikon, Justification - White, fine grained marble.
According to MFA Sculpture in Stone and Bronze, entry no. 32: from about 1949 to 1960 seen at Spink and Son, London, where it seems to have been since before the Second World War, when it belonged to the British branch of an old aristocratic Sicilian family; between 1960 and 1978: in the possession of, or on consignment to, various collectors and dealers in London, New York, and Tokyo; by 1978: with Münzen und Medaillen A.G., Malzgasse 25, Basel (Münzen und Medaillen A.G., Catalogue of 1978 Basel Antiquities Fair, no. 310 [said to have been in the Avery Brundage Collection for a time]); by 1983: with Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., 1334 York Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10021; purchased by MFA from Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., January 18, 1984
Gift of Moses Alpers, Mrs. Harvey H. Bundy, Mrs. William H. Claflin III, Joseph Edinburgh, Mrs. Laurence B. Ellis, Mr. and Mrs. De Coursey Fales, Jr., Dr. Ernest Kahn, Dr. Josephine Murray, Mrs. Benjamin Rowland, Jr., Adrian Vermeule, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Weld, Dr. Leonard Wolsky by their contributions to the Classical Department Curator's Fund