Trapezophorus Fragment of a Feline Head
1st - 2nd century AD
H: 6 3/8 inches (16 cm)
This trapezophorus, or table support, is in the form of a feline, most likely a lion. The deep cut eyes sit beneath a furrowed brow. The figure’s broad snout is wrinkled and mouth agape, showing its teeth and tongue. Hair from he mane curve under the chin from either side
The lion head would have surmounted a leg and paw, creating a table leg. Most commonly made of marble, this example is carved from giallo antico. Colored stones such as this were used in decorative elements during the Roman period. Given the luxurious nature of these color stone, this giallo antico lion figure was most likely attached to a base fitting made of white marble.
Most known examples of decorative tables span the centuries between 50BC and 220AD. In antiquity, few opportunities were missed to turn functional objects into visually interesting and artistic objects. Greek and Roman sculptures such as this were precursors for the decorative arts of the Italian Renaissance.