A Greek Bronze Handle of a Panther, ca. 5th - 4th century BC

Cast in solid bronze using the lost wax method, this beautiful panther makes a striking pose: the head upright, the forelegs raised, the sleek, well-built body supporting the tight muscles of the extended hind legs as if ready to pounce. The animal’s face is stylized, with large eyes, and open mouth bearing his sharp teeth. The anatomical details of the panther’s body have been carefully modeled: the ruff and feathering of his coat is engraved on his neck and forelegs, his tail is curled up around his hindquarters, and his spotted markings are slightly recessed.   On both the front and back paws of the animal are fragmentary tenons suggesting the figure was made to be attached perhaps as a handle to a vessel.

Background:  In Greek and Roman art of all the cats devoted to Dionysus, the panther was the most loyal attendant, being not only the most graceful and fascinating but also the most savage and bloodthirsty. The lightning-fast agility and perfect elegance of its movements, whose purpose is to kill, exhibit the same union of beauty and fatal danger found in the maenad women who accompany the god.

Condition: Intact and in excellent condition with no crack, chips, or breaks. Offered on a museum quality custom mount.

Dimensions: Height: 1 3/4 inches (4.4 cm)

Provenance:  Private collection of diplomat Richard C. Patterson Jr. (1886–1966), U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia (1944), Guatemala (1948–1950), and U.S. Minister to Switzerland (1951–53) thereafter private D.C. collection.  Unidentified museum or collection number painted in red ink on stomach. 

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