Joel Malter (Los Angeles, California)
William Wahler (San Francisco, California), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975.
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Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 201C, Upper Peristyle, Animals in Antiquity
Mosaic Fragment with Peacock Facing Right
Syria (Place Created)
166.4 × 129.5 × 7.6 cm (65 1/2 × 51 × 3 in.)
Gift of William Wahler
A peacock facing right decorates this mosaic fragment. The body is rendered in blue, beige, white and yellow with a black outline. The long multicolored tail has a red feathery border and a pink background with lines of yellow tesserae indicating the feathers. The feather eyespots are rendered as compressed circles with a black outline and filled with blue, yellow, and white. It is in very good condition with the details of the bird's feathers clearly visible. Long vines surround the bird, and two bunches of grapes in the lower left and right corners are partially preserved.
Originally part of a larger mosaic decorating the floor of a church in ancient Syria, this peacock would have faced a second bird (see also 75.AH.121) on either side of an image of a tree or wine vessel (traditionally an amphora or a kantharos). Long vines with grape clusters wind across the surface and surround each bird. In early Christian art and literature, peacocks were associated with immortality and considered among the most spectacular creatures on earth.