|ROMAN BRONZE THREE-HEADED CERBERUS, THE GUARDIAN OF HADES
As a lion advancing, his jaws agape, two canine heads emerging from the unruly mane, two long serpents entwined around his legs, draping over the canines. Superb!
Chiusi, 2nd Century BC
H. 2 11/16 in. (6.8 cm)
Ex collection of Natacha Rambova (1897-1966); Professor Donald P. Hansen (1932-2007), New York; J.M.E. collection, NY, acquired at Sotheby’s NY, December 2007.
Exhibited: ‘Monsters, Demons, and Winged Beasts: Composite Creatures of the Ancient World’, Carlos Museum of Art, Emory University, Atlanta, February 5-June 19, 2011.
Cf. Kofler-Truniger Coll, A167, Master Bronzes, no. 141, and LIMC VI, no. 89. For a more complete list see W. Hornbostel, Sarapis, Leiden, 1973, 93, note 8. This is a replica in miniature of the Cerberus which stood beside the monumental cult statue of Zeus-Sarapis in the Serapeion at Alexandria. Macrobius, Sat., I,20,13-14, describes him as "a three-headed animal, the central and largest head of which bears the likeness of a lion; on the right there rises the head of a dog trying to please with a friendly expression, while the left part of the neck terminates in the head of a rapacious wolf; and a serpent connects these animal forms with its coils, its head turned back to the right hand of the god, who pacifies the monster."