Fragment Of A Wall Relief: Head Of A Winged Genie
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1940.13
Title
Fragment of a Wall Relief: Head of a Winged Genie
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture, relief
Date
883-859 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Assyria
Period
Neo-Assyrian period
Culture
Neo-Assyrian
Location
Level 3, Room 3460, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Alabaster
Technique
Relief
Dimensions
65.5 cm h x 50.5 cm w x 10 cm d (25 13/16 x 19 7/8 x 3 15/16 in.)
Provenance
Sir Henry Layard, (by 1848), gift; to Lady Charlotte Guest Schreiber, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, (1848-1895), by inheritance; to Captain Vere Brabazon Ponsonby, Ninth Earl of Bessborough, (by 1895). [Spink and Son, Ltd, London, by 1939-1940], sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1940.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. Percival Lombard, Mrs. John Bartol, Miss Dorothy Bartol, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick R. Grace, and the Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
Accession Year
1940
Object Number
1940.13
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
Representing the head of a winged genie, or protective spirit, this relief fragment was part of the wall decoration of the throne room of King Ashurnasirpal II's Northwest Palace at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) in Iraq. Placed to the right of the throne base, the genie - wearing the horned cap of a deity - was probably performing a ritual. It was one of several representations of genies intended to ensure the protection of this important room. Across the genie's body ran Ashurnasirpal II's "standard inscription," giving the titles and the achievements of the Assyrian king. Hunt and battle scenes carved on the long walls of the room conveyed a similar message. The appearance of these reliefs was originally enhanced by paint. This particular fragment was presented by Sir Austen Henry Layard, the excavator of Nimrud, to his cousin, Lady Charlotte Guest, in 1848.
Commentary
Re-View Exhibition, Spring 2008, gallery label information:

Fragment of a Wall Relief: Head of a Winged Genie; Neo-Assyrian, Reign of Ashurnasirpal II, 883-859 BCE; From the Northwest Palace at Nimrud (Kalhu); Alabaster; Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. Percival Lombard, Mrs. John Bartol, Miss Dorothy Bartol, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick R. Grace, and the Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund, 1940.13

Representing the head of a winged genie, or protective spirit, this relief fragment was part of the wall decoration of the throne room of King Ashurnasirpal II's Northwest Palace at Nimrud, ancient Kalhu, in Iraq. Placed to the right of the
throne base, the genie-wearing the horned cap of a deity-was probably performing a ritual. It was one of several representations of genies intended to ensure the protection of this important room. Across the genie's body ran Ashurnasirpal
II's "standard inscription," giving the titles and achievements of the Assyrian king. Hunt and battle scenes carved on the long walls of the room conveyed a similar message. The appearance of these reliefs was originally enhanced by paint. This particular fragment was presented by Sir Austen Henry Layard, the excavator of Nimrud, to his cousin, Lady Charlotte Guest, in 1848.
Publication History

Frederick Randolph Grace, "An Assyrian Winged Genius", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum (1940), Vol. 9, No. 2, 22-28, cover ill.

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/Handbook, exh. cat. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008)

Exhibition History

Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008

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