Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sculptures of Bulls at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Charles Kessler

Often, as if there's a theme for the day, one thing or another seems to stand out when I visit a museum. I already wrote about how one day I noticed the backs of sculptures; another time I spotted what I called the "awww, how charming" motif; and once, at the National Gallery, several of the paintings suddenly struck me as hilariously funny. And now, on my latest trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I noted a surprising number of sculptures of bulls.

It makes sense that bulls would be depicted a lot since they're large, powerful animals that demand attention, and they're vitally important to agrarian societies. But the way bulls were portrayed in ancient times was very different from the terrifying, sexually aggressive monsters that Picasso and other modern artists created.
Pablo Picasso, Dying Bull, 1934, oil on canvas, 13 ¼ x 21 ¾ inches (1999.363.67).
The bull sculptures I saw at the Met seemed calm, contented and sometimes even playful. Perhaps pre-modern people were more at ease with nature, including their own animal nature, than we have become.

So here, in chronological order, is a selection of my favorite sculptures of bulls currently on view at the  Met. I included the acquisition numbers in the captions so you can easily find more about them in the Met's comprehensive collection database.
Kneeling bull holding a spouted vessel, Southwestern Iran,  Proto-Elamite,  ca. 3100 - 2900 B. C., silver, 7 x 2 ½ x 4 ¼ inches (66.173).
Standard with Two Long-horned Bulls,  Central Anatolia, Early Bronze age ca. 2300 - 2000 B. C.,  copper alloy,  6 ¼ x 5 ¾ inches  (55.137.5).
Bull's head, Mesopotamia, Neo-Sumerian, ca. 2100 - 2000 B. C., steatite or serpentine, 2 ½ x 2 ¾ x 2 ⅔ inches (1973.33.2).
Vessel terminating in the forepart of a bull,  Hittite Empire,  Central Anatolia,  ca. 14th - 13th century B. C.,  silver,        7 x 5 x 8 ½ inches (1989.281.11). 
Terracotta bull,  Mycenaean, Late Helladic IIIA,  ca. 1400 - 1200 B. C.,  3 ¼ x 4 ½ inches (36.11.6)
Bronze bull, Late Minoan III,  ca. 1400 - 1200 B. C. or later, 2  3/16 x 2  5/16 inches (26.31.492). 
Bull, Southwestern Arabia, ca. mid-1st millennium B. C.,  bronze, 8 ¾ high (47,100.85).
Standing Bull, Southwestern Arabia, ca. mid- to late- 1st millennium B. C.,  copper alloy and shell,  8 x 9 ½ inches (2002.34).
Part of a throne with deity on a bull, Urartu probably from Toprakkale, Iron Age III,  ca. 8th - 7th century B. C.,  5 3/4 inches high (50.163).
Striding bull,  Neo-Assyrian, Mesopotamia,  ca. 8th - 7th century B. C.,  ivory and gold,  3 x 1 ½ x 1 inches (54.117.10).
Bronze bull, Greek, Archaic,  ca. 7th century B. C.,  2 inches high (1972.118.82). 
Jug in the form of a recumbent bull, Iran, ca. 7th - 6th century B. C., ceramic and paint, 6 ½ x 12 inches (43.89.1) .
Terracotta bull,  Greek, Archaic,  ca. 3rd quarter of the 6th century,  4 ⅛ inches high (62.67).
Bull's head from column capital, achaemenid period,  ca. 5th century B. C., limestone, 18 ½ inches high (47.100.83).

1 comment:

Bull Statues said...

These can be obtained for outdoor centerpiece. There are different types of Bull Statues like Wall Street bull, Stock Market bull, etc. and in various poses.