Italic, Etruscan
Archaic Period
about 540 B.C.


Height x length: 46.5 x 56 cm (18 5/16 x 22 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



Although headless, with most of the legs, haunches, and plinth missing, this sphinx is a masterful example of Etruscan carving. The curled wing (not hollowed), the broad breastbone (with necklace and stylized lines of the forelegs), and the hair arranged in regular plaits down the back of the neck derive from Attic funerary sphinxes, through the intermediary of those made at Tarentum in southern Italy.
The sphinx has a light brown patina, with rough surfaces.


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