Antefix In The Shape Of A Mask Of Silenos
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1972.49
Title
Antefix in the Shape of a Mask of Silenos
Classification
Architectural Elements
Work Type
architectural element
Date
c. 470-460 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Gela (Sicily)
Period
Classical period, Early
Culture
Greek
Location
Level 3, Room 3400, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Terracotta with traces of paint
Technique
Molded
Dimensions
23.5 cm h x 20 cm w x 14 cm d (9 1/4 x 7 7/8 x 5 1/2 in.)
Provenance
Charles L. Morley, (by 1960) sold; to Frederick M. Watkins, New Haven, CT, (1961-1972), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1972.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Frederick M. Watkins
Accession Year
1972
Object Number
1972.49
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Commentary
Re-View Exhibition, Spring 2008, gallery label information:

Attached to a tile, this mask of Silenos would originally have peered down from the edge of a roof. Such antefixes were common in Greek temple decoration, which was often executed in painted terracotta in the Greek cities of South Italy and Sicily. Like the satyrs depicted on the large red-figure krater (1960.236) behind you, the silens were mythical companions of Dionysos, characterized by their thirst for wine. Old Silenos was the father of the satyrs. Despite his startling appearance, with a furrowed face, bulbous nose, and equine ears, he was thought to be a creature full of wisdom and skilled in music, and his representation may have hinted at the rebirth promised to worshippers of Dionysos. This antefix is composed of two separate ancient pieces joined in modern times.
Publication History

The Frederick M. Watkins Collection, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1973)

Caroline Houser, Dionysos and His Circle: Ancient Through Modern, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1979), no. 35.

Stephen R. Wilk, Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon, Oxford University Press (UK) (Oxford, NY, 2000), p. 166, fig. 9.7

Exhibition History

The Frederick M. Watkins Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/31/1973 - 03/14/1973

Dionysos and His Circle: Ancient through Modern, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/10/1979 - 02/10/1980

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