A Winged Hero Contesting with a Lion for a Bull

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Overall: 1 1/2 × 11/16 in. (3.9 × 1.8 cm)
The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York
Morgan Seal 747

In the miniature space on the surface of this seal, the artist created a contest of monumental proportions: a demonic lion faces a winged superhuman hero. The lion's threatening gesture and the tension of his sharp claws suggest his evil power. But the hero will prevail. Taller than the lion, he calmly dominates it, and the bull—the victim of the contest—remains in his power. The smooth muscular forms of the heroic figure are set off by his carefully detailed and ornamented flounced garment. Despite the violence of the action, the figures seem frozen in time—a result of the symmetry.

Acquired by Pierpont Morgan sometime between 1885 and 1908

"The earlier group (747-752), comprising cylinders for which a Neo-Babylonian classification is suggested, seems to reflect influence of the Middle Assyrian modeled style, while the later group (753-769) illustrates the specific character of the Neo-Assyrian modeled style of the late eighth and of the seventh century B.C., though in some cases a seal included in this grouping may have been made in Babylonia."--Porada, CANES, p. 90


Winged hero with scimitar holding reversed bull as he confronts attacking lion.