Fragment Of A Mosaic Pavement Depicting A Peacock Under A Tree
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2001.269
Title
Fragment of a Mosaic Pavement depicting a Peacock under a Tree
Classification
Mosaics
Work Type
mosaic
Date
5th-6th centuries
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Syria, Northwestern Syria
Period
Byzantine period, Early
Culture
Syrian
Location
Level 3, Room 3460, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Stone and glass tesserae embedded in mortar
Dimensions
114 cm h x 103 cm w x 1.6 cm d (44 7/8 x 40 9/16 x 5/8 in.)
Provenance
[Richard C. Brockway, Ancient Art International, Middleboro, MA, 1997], sold; to Martha Gefter and Thomas Lemberg, Wayland, MA, (1997-2001), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2001.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Martha Gefter and Thomas Lemberg in honor of David Gordon Mitten
Accession Year
2001
Object Number
2001.269
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
The peacock is depicted mainly in profile with its head turned as it looks out over its back. It is a colorful fragment with accurate modeling of the tree, color, shading of foliage, and blue tones in the peacock's neck, which are formed by tesserae of blue glass.
Commentary
Re-View Exhibition, Spring 2008, gallery label information:

Fragment of a Mosaic Pavement: Peacock under a Tree
Late Roman or Byzantine, Syria, 5th-6th century AD
Stone and glass tesserae embedded in mortar
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Martha Gefter and Thomas Lemberg in honor of David Gordon Mitten, 2001.269

This mosaic fragment, probably from a church, exhibits a skillful use of painterly techniques in rendering a peacock under a tree. The peacock was earlier associated with Eastern, paradisiacal gardens and functioned as a pagan symbol of springtime, renewal, and apotheosis. Appearing in every artistic medium of the Byzantine period, however, it additionally assumed connotations of the eternal triumph of Christ in a splendid, Edenlike heaven. Mosaics were placed on floors rather than walls and were a vital element in the decorative schemes of the public buildings and wealthiest houses of late antiquity.
Exhibition History

Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted