Italic, Etruscan
Archaic Period
about 560 B.C.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 392; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 116 (additional published references).


Height x length: 69 x 60 cm (27 3/16 x 23 5/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



The sphinx has a light brown to yellow patina, with rough surfaces. Left eye, nose, mouth, and chin have been damaged; the start of the left front leg survives. The curved wing is in perfect preservation, as it loops back to join the body, giving the seated sphinx a look of crouching alertness. The large eyes and broad, flat face, by contrast, produce an almost bland vision of slightly provincial, early Archaic sculpture in southern and western Greece. Heavy curls of hair are wrapped across the top of the head and around the back of the skull. They hang down to enframe the face in a broad semicircle. The lines or grooves of the hair are carried right on in the muscles of the left leg. The feathers of the wings, and the fur on the haunches, creating an original, charming overall pattern.


Probably from Vulci. November, 1963, sold by Robert E. Hecht, Jr., Boston, to Horace L. Mayer (b. 1899 - d. 1968), Williamstown, MA; 1963, year-end gift of Horace Mayer to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 26, 1963)

NOTE: According to Hecht, he purchased this in 1956 from Count Sottolimeno of Livorno, to whose family it had belonged for three generations. This information has not been verified.

Credit Line

Gift of Horace L. Mayer