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Mosaic with Mask of Silenus

Mosaic with Mask of Silenus

1st Century A.D.
stone tesserae and cement
12 1/4x 12 1/4 x 2 1/2 in.

Purchased with funds from the Morton R. Hirschberg Bequest, AP.1990.19.1

Depictions of masks and masked figures appear in mosaics throughout the ancient Roman world. This mosaic depicts is a mask of Silenus, a woodland deity associated with the Greek god Dionysos and the Greek theater. Silenus was the tutor of Dionysos and was reputed to possess great practical wisdom and the power of prophecy. He became the chief comic character of the satyr plays written by Greek tragedians. The mask depicts Silenus with a beard, snub nose, gaping mouth, grimacing brow, and wild gaze. His broad face is framed by a garland of leaves, a reference to the ivy sacred to Dionysos.

The technique of creating mosaics consists of embedding small pieces of colored stone, marble, or glass, called tesserae, into a base of cement or plaster. Mosaics were used as a durable alternative to floor coverings, because of the relative permanence of these materials. The art of mosaic was developed extensively by the ancient Romans for decorating pavements. Mosaics were only one element in a unified decorative program that included wall frescoes, sculptures, furniture, and ornamental architectural elements.

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Catalog Number: 
AP.1990.19.1
Permanent Artist First Name: 
Roman
Permanent Image: 
Add "c."?: 
No
Permanent Year: 
1st Century A.D.
Permanent Period: 
Ancient Art
Permanent Material: 
stone tesserae and cement<br />12 1/4x 12 1/4 x 2 1/2 in.

Depictions of masks and masked figures appear in mosaics throughout the ancient Roman world. This mosaic depicts is a mask of Silenus, a woodland deity associated with the Greek god Dionysos and the Greek theater. Silenus was the tutor of Dionysos and was reputed to possess great practical wisdom and the power of prophecy. He became the chief comic character of the satyr plays written by Greek tragedians. The mask depicts Silenus with a beard, snub nose, gaping mouth, grimacing brow, and wild gaze. His broad face is framed by a garland of leaves, a reference to the ivy sacred to Dionysos.

The technique of creating mosaics consists of embedding small pieces of colored stone, marble, or glass, called tesserae, into a base of cement or plaster. Mosaics were used as a durable alternative to floor coverings, because of the relative permanence of these materials. The art of mosaic was developed extensively by the ancient Romans for decorating pavements. Mosaics were only one element in a unified decorative program that included wall frescoes, sculptures, furniture, and ornamental architectural elements.

Permanent Gift: 
Purchased with funds from the Morton R. Hirschberg Bequest
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Catalog Number: 
AP.1990.19.1
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Permanent Artist First Name: 
Roman
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stone tesserae and cement<br />12 1/4x 12 1/4 x 2 1/2 in.
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Depictions of masks and masked figures appear in mosaics throughout the ancient Roman world. This mosaic depicts is a mask of Silenus, a woodland deity associated with the Greek god Dionysos and the Greek theater. Silenus was the tutor of Dionysos and was reputed to possess great practical wisdom and the power of prophecy. He became the chief comic character of the satyr plays written by Greek tragedians. The mask depicts Silenus with a beard, snub nose, gaping mouth, grimacing brow, and wild gaze. His broad face is framed by a garland of leaves, a reference to the ivy sacred to Dionysos.

The technique of creating mosaics consists of embedding small pieces of colored stone, marble, or glass, called tesserae, into a base of cement or plaster. Mosaics were used as a durable alternative to floor coverings, because of the relative permanence of these materials. The art of mosaic was developed extensively by the ancient Romans for decorating pavements. Mosaics were only one element in a unified decorative program that included wall frescoes, sculptures, furniture, and ornamental architectural elements.

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Permanent Gift: 
Purchased with funds from the Morton R. Hirschberg Bequest
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Catalog Number: 
AP.1990.19.1
Permanent Artist First Name: 
Roman
Permanent Image: 
Add "c."?: 
No
Permanent Year: 
1st Century A.D.
Permanent Period: 
Ancient Art
Permanent Material: 
stone tesserae and cement<br />12 1/4x 12 1/4 x 2 1/2 in.

Depictions of masks and masked figures appear in mosaics throughout the ancient Roman world. This mosaic depicts is a mask of Silenus, a woodland deity associated with the Greek god Dionysos and the Greek theater. Silenus was the tutor of Dionysos and was reputed to possess great practical wisdom and the power of prophecy. He became the chief comic character of the satyr plays written by Greek tragedians. The mask depicts Silenus with a beard, snub nose, gaping mouth, grimacing brow, and wild gaze. His broad face is framed by a garland of leaves, a reference to the ivy sacred to Dionysos.

The technique of creating mosaics consists of embedding small pieces of colored stone, marble, or glass, called tesserae, into a base of cement or plaster. Mosaics were used as a durable alternative to floor coverings, because of the relative permanence of these materials. The art of mosaic was developed extensively by the ancient Romans for decorating pavements. Mosaics were only one element in a unified decorative program that included wall frescoes, sculptures, furniture, and ornamental architectural elements.

Permanent Gift: 
Purchased with funds from the Morton R. Hirschberg Bequest
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