500s (frame) and 700s (central panel)
Wood with paint
Average: 70.6 x 144.2 cm (27 13/16 x 56 3/4 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1954.799
This wooden panel and its frame come from different locations. The four narrow panels forming the outer frame are stylistically datable to the 500s. The large central rectangular panel might date to the 700s. It is most likely a carved ceiling, but its architectural context is unknown. Both panel and frame have been cut down and joined together at some point in their history under unknown circumstances. The decorative program of the main panel features two large rosettes surrounded by florets, leaves, and fruit. The outer frame features two flying angels holding a wreath, a peacock, an octopus, a seated fisherman who holds a long line with a fish attached, and a swimming boy with a dolphin. The vocabulary of the frame is dominated by water life, particularly of the Nile and its banks. Though separated from its original place and altered, this important object provides a welcome glimpse of an architectural interior from early Christian Egypt.
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