Griffin Attachment from a Cauldron
This striking bronze griffin protome, dating to the seventh century B.C., assumes pride of place as the earliest and most important Greek bronze in the Museum's collection.
Griffins, fantastical creatures with bird, lion and snake features, served as guardians in Greek mythology. Decorative attachments called protomes in the form of griffins' heads and necks often adorned the rims of the large bronze cauldrons that were dedicated to the gods in Greek sanctuaries during the late eighth and seventh centuries B.C. Griffin protomes similar to this one have been found in the sanctuaries of Zeus at Olympia and of Hera on Samos.
This griffin protome was one of a pair that once belonged to Sigmund Morgenroth, a collector who emigrated from Europe to Santa Barbara in the late 1930s. Its mate has been in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums since the 1960s.
The lively griffin is now on watch near the Museum's early Greek vases in the Blackburn (Greek) Gallery. This important acquisition has been supported by the Grace Fortner Rider Fund.