Choose Category:

Home > Auctions > 3rd September 2014 > Greek Bronze Minotaur Figurine

Print page | Email lot to a friend

Back to previous page

Use mousewheel to zoom in and out, click to enlarge
Gallery loading...

LOT 0106

Sold for (Inc. bp): £5,566

5 1/2" (367 grams, 14cm including base).

A cast figurine of the Minotaur standing with club in the right hand, left arm raised; mounted on a custom-made wooden stand with old collector' label 'Coll. General Cesnola / Am. Consul Gen. / Crete / Sotheby's 1892'. The Minotaur, monstrous offspring of the Cretan queen Pasiphae and a white bull, was first represented during the Minoan period (27th - 15th century BC). According to myth, the creature, imprisoned in a labyrinth beneath the royal palace, demanded yearly human sacrifices until it was eventually slain by the hero Theseus. The tale may have had its origins in the prehistoric Greek worship of a 'horned god' and the likely practise of human sacrifice at the palace-city of Knossos. By the Archaic period of Greek art (c. 800 - 480 BC), the Minotaur was an established and popular subject -matter for vase paintings, sculpture and metalwork (cf. the depiction of Theseus slaying the MInotaur on a black-figure kylix held in the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, USA, accession no. 1958.70 / Beazley 350734). Later, during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, bulls were also associated with the worship of Mithras, meaning that this figure may have held dual significance for its original owner.

From an important London collection, acquired in the 1970s.

The Cesnola Collection is known both for its broad cultural range and also for its chronological range, from the Early Bronze Age to the end of antiquity. The Cesnola Collection formed the nucleus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Luigi Palma di Cesnola was appointed American consul in Cyprus in 1865 and over the following years, he amassed an unrivalled collection of Cypriot antiquities through excavations and purchase. Cesnola was appointed as the Museum's first director from 1879 until his death in 1904 AD.