Artist unknown / Elephant Attacking a Feline / late 4th century - 5th centuryArtist unknown
Elephant Attacking a Feline
late 4th century - 5th century

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Creator Name: Unknown
Creator Nationality: Asian; Middle Eastern; Syrian
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Name-CRT: Artist unknown
Title: Elephant Attacking a Feline
View: front
Creation Start Date: 366
Creation End Date: 499
Creation Date: late 4th century - 5th century
Object Type: Architecture
Materials and Techniques: marble mosaic of multi-colored stones
Dimensions: H.41-1/4 x W.81-1/2 in.
AMICA Contributor: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Owner Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
ID Number: 69.49.2
Credit Line: The John R. Van Derlip Fund

Animal combat is a Near Eastern theme which entered early into Greek and later Roman art. The introduction of large-scale animal compositions was an important innovation in mosaic decoration, possibly stimulated by circus spectacles. In the fourth century A.D. pavement mosaics of hunting scenes were installed in the villa of Constantine the Great in Antioch, setting an important local precedent.

In this fragment of a larger scene, the elephant appears to be somersaulting the tiger with his trunk. The two animals are flattened and generalized into a linear surface pattern, with little attempt at anatomical accuracy. The Romans associated the African elephant with military victory, while tradition held that the tiger, a native of Asia, gave his name to theTigris river. Although this mosaic formed part of a pavement in an Early Christian church, any eventual religious significance of the animals remains obscure, and may not have been intended.

AMICA ID: MIA_.69.49.2
Component Measured: overall
Measurement Unit: in
AMICA Library Year: 2001
Media Metadata Rights: ?The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

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