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ID number:  BIRBI-47.7
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Persian
Title / Object name:  Head of a spearman
Object type:  Sculpture
Place made:  Persepolis
Culture:  Persian
Date made:  5th century BC
Materials:  Limestone relief
Measurements:  26.1 x 24.1 x 7.5 cm
Provenance:  Purchased from Spink & Co., July 1947 for £585
BIRBI-47.7.jpg

This fragment depicts a bearded profile head of a Persian guardsman wearing a feathered headdress. A tongue motif is on the bevelled edge above the head. It is from a frieze on the Apadana in the city of Persepolis, located 30 miles northwest of Shiraz in the southwest Iranian province of Fars. The fragment is thought to have come from the north façade of the Apadana, a magnificent building that was often used for royal receptions. It was at the heart of the Achaemenid Empire, which was founded by Darius I in 515 BC and flourished for 200 years until defeat at the Battle of Issus by Alexander the Great and his Macedonian troops in 333 BC. It was only in the 17th and 18th centuries that the city of Persepolis and the art and architecture of the Achaemenid Empire was rediscovered. The fragment was probably removed from Persepolis during John Malcolm’s embassy to the Persian Gulf, in about 1810, and acquired by his naval escort Captain John Edgcumbe, RN (d. 1838).

Notes:  Probably removed from Persepolis during John Malcolm’s embassy to the Persian Gulf, c.1810, and acquired by his naval escort Captain John Edgcumbe, RN (d. 1838); by whom probably given to his kinsman Richard Edgcumbe, 2nd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe (1764-1839), Mount Edgcumbe House, Plymouth, c.1811, or later; by descent to Kenelm Edgcumbe, 6th Earl of Mount Edgcumbe (1873-1965); by whom sold to James Thomas Hooper (1897-1971), curator and collector, Hertfordshire, 1946/47; his sale, Glendinning’s, London, 14.07.1947 (lot 157), £390, bt Spink & Son, dealers, London; by whom sold to the Henry Barber Trust, for the Barber Institute, August 1947.

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