The J. Paul Getty Museum

Stag Rhyton

Object Details

Title:

Stag Rhyton

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Near Eastern (Parthian)

Place:

Eastern Seleucid Empire (Place Created)

Date:

100–1 B.C.

Medium:

Gilt silver, garnet, glass

Object Number:

86.AM.753

Dimensions:

27.5 × 46 × 12.7 cm (10 13/16 × 18 1/8 × 5 in.)

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Object Description

The forepart of a stag emerges from the curving body of this gilt silver rhyton. The rendering of the animal is highly detailed, down to the veins in its snout. The wide inlaid eyes and the outstretched legs heighten the realistic effect as the stag seemingly bolts in flight. The horn of the rhyton has raised floral decoration, incised wave patterns on the lip, and is gilded all over. On the belly of the stag is a punched Aramaic (possibly Persian) inscription, perhaps referring to the owner.

The term rhyton comes from the Greek verb meaning "to run through,” and depictions of rhyta show that they were used to aerate wine. Poured into the top of the vessel, the wine came out of a spout or opening between the animal's legs. The spout on this example is now missing, but the hole remains visible.

Stylistic features suggest that the rhyton was made in northwest Iran in the period from 50 B.C. to A.D. 50. This region had been part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire until it was conquered by Alexander the Great. After his death in 323 B.C., the Hellenistic Greek Seleucid dynasty, whose kingdom stretched from Turkey to Afghanistan, ruled the area. In the later third century B.C., however, a group of semi-nomadic people from the steppes of south central Asia called the Parthians began challenging the weakened Seleucid authority in the eastern part of their territory. By the first century B.C., the Parthians ruled the area. This complicated political history left its legacy in the local art and material culture. Rhyta had a long history in earlier art of Iran, but the floral motifs on this elaborate example derive from Seleucid art.


Provenance
Provenance
by 1985 - 1986

Maurice Tempelsman (New York, New York), sold through Robin Symes (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings (September 7, 2018 to January 6, 2019)
  • Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University (Cambridge), September 7, 2018 to January 6, 2019
Bibliography
Bibliography

"Acquisitions/1986." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), pp. 164-165, no. 21.

"Museum Acquisitions and Notes." Bulletin of the Asia Institute 5 (1991), pp. 188-89.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 58.

Pfrommer, Michael. Metalwork from the Hellenized East. Catalogue of the Collections. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), cover color photo; pp. 192-93, no. 74, ill.

Penny, Nicholas. The Materials of Sculpture. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), pl. 223.

Boardman, John. Greek Art. 3rd ed. (London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996), fig. 284.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 59.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 70.

Invernizzi, Antonio. Sculture di metallo da Nisa. Cultura greca e cultura iranica in Partia. Acta Iranica, Textes et Memoires 21. (Leuven, Belgium: 1999), pp. 143, 147; pl. 20:a.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 58-59.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 97.

Spivey, Nigel and Squire, Michael. Panorama of the Classical World (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2004), p. 253, fig. 397.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 38, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 97.

Haruta, Seiro. "Inscriptions on the rhyton with the protome of a desert lynx catching a fowl in the Miho Museum" in The 19th Annual Meeting of Japan Society for Hellenistic-Islam Archaeological Studies, Kashihara, 7-8 July 2012 (Nara: Archaeological Institute of Kashihara), pp. 89-90.

Lapatin, Kenneth. Luxus: The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), pp. 99, 241, pl. 73.

Ebbinghaus, S. (ed.), Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings (Harvard Art Museums: Yale University Press, 2018), 362, no.46.

Colburn, H., "From the Mediterranean to China - After Alexander", in Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings, edited by S. Ebbinghaus (Harvard Art Museums: Yale University Press, 2018), 318-319, fig.7.10.