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Relief with Winged Genie

with Ashurnasirpal II, reigned 883–859 BC
Artist Culture
Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Assyrian
Neo-Assyrian period, 883–612 BC
883–859 BC
Excavated in
Nimrud, Ninawa, Iraq, Asia, Northwest Palace
Associated with
Near Eastern (Middle East)
Sculpture, stone & mineral
Current Location
On View, Gallery 259
59 1/2 x 35 1/4 in. (151.1 x 89.5 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
The carved image in this relief may represent a mythical being known as a winged genius. The figure ensures fertility and stability by pollinating a sacred tree with a cone and situla, a bucket with a handle. The cuneiform inscriptions over the surface of the sculpture expound the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II's splendid endeavors and exploits. In the heart of his empire in the northern part of present-day Iraq, King Ashurnasirpal built huge royal palaces that were guarded by colossal statues of man-headed bulls. Endless reliefs decorating the interiors of the palaces portrayed the glory of the king and the mighty deities who protected him and his vast holdings.
Excavated by Sir Austen Henry Layard (1817-1894), Northwest Palace, room L, Nimrud, Assyria (modern day Iraq) [1]

by 1852 - 1925
English officer, acquired from Sir Austen Henry Layard; officer's son by inheritance [2]

Spink & Son, Ltd., London, England, reportedly acquired from the son of an English officer

1925 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Spink & Son, Ltd. [3]

[1] With the assistance of Sir Stratford-Canning, English Ambassador at Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) and the British Museum, Layard (an English archeologist) excavated at Nimrud and subsequently distributed artifacts to individuals and institutions [Spink and Son, Ltd, "An Assyrian Sculptured Panel." "The Antiquarian Quarterly" no. 2 (June 1925): 39-40].

[2] In 1852 Layard was elected Liberal MP for Aylesbury and appointed Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. During the 1850s he returned to Italy for long periods in the summers and began an ambitious project to copy all Italian 15th-century fresco cycles, which were being destroyed. Presumably by this time he had distrubuted the Nimrud reliefs to their various recipients [Jaynie Anderson, "Sir Austen Henry Layard," The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, Oxford University Press, accessed December 12, 2003, ]. Ravn mentions that the owner of the relief was a marine officer, but does not provide further clarification [Ravn, O.E. "Die Reliefs der assyrischen Konige." "Archiv fur Orientforschung" Zweiter Teil, Band XVI, no. 3 (1952-1953): 233-4].

[3] See Invoice dated December 17, 1925 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, October 30, 1925.
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