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Apollo and Hera

Sarcophagus metopes

Attica (?)

First half of the 4th century BC

Wood; h 20 cm, w 10 cm

These gilded reliefs showing Apollo and Hera would have graced the metopes of the lateral wall of a wooden sarcophagus discovered in a stone tomb of the Zmeiny burial mound near Kerch. Made of yew, inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl, decorated with bright polychrome painting and gilded, the sarcophagus is unrivalled among wooden items in the Hermitage in the sumptuousness of the decoration and high level of craftsmanship. The poses of Apollo and Hera, the treatment of drapery, hair styles and architectural motifs are very close to late 5th-century art. However, the sumptuous foliate ornament on the other metopes, the letters in the inscription on the sarcophagus, and painted pottery from this burial reveal that the sarcophagus was made during the first half of the 4th century BC, probably in Attica.

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