Art

Fragment of a Wall Relief: Head of a Winged Genie


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Fragment of a Wall Relief: Head of a Winged Genie, 883-859 BCE
Sculpture
, Relief
Neo-Assyrian
,
9th century BCE
Neo-Assyrian period
Creation Place: Assyria
Alabaster
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.)
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
, 1940.13
Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art & Numismatics
,
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.
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.
Bibliography
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., ed. Stephan Wolohojian (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