Gold fibula (brooch) with lions and sphinxes


British Museum

British Museum

This remarkable gold fibula has a small bow formed from three curved tubes and a very long catchplate of gold sheet. On the catchplate is mounted a procession of ten pairs of gold lions, each glancing over its shoulder, while more lions, sphinxes and heads of lions and horses decorate the bow, as well as the tip and butt of the catchplate. Details of the animals are picked out in gold granulation, and lines of granulation ornament the other parts of the brooch. The lions are of a type typically produced by goldsmiths at Cerveteri, and this was probably where the brooch was made, although it was found at Vulci, probably at the Ponte Sodo necropolis. Such an elaborate form of this particular type of brooch is unique. Its predecessors were simple bronze examples of the 'serpentine' (snake-like) type produced locally in Italy, but this example follows the fashion for luxurious and ostentatious gold jewellery in seventh-century Etruria.

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  • Title: Gold fibula (brooch) with lions and sphinxes
  • Date Created: -675/-650
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 18.60cm; Weight: 712.00grains
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: granulation
  • Subject: sphinx; mammal; horse/ass
  • Registration number: 1862,0512.16
  • Production place: Made in Italy. Made in Cerveteri
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Vulci
  • Period/culture: Etruscan
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Sotheby's. Previous owner/ex-collection Blayds, Thomas


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