Small Roman Silver Feline Statuette


A fine Roman silver statuette of a stylised feline, possibly a panther, on a narrow rectangular base. The animal features a sinuous body with its head raised and tail lowered to the base. The legs are depicted outstretched in a running motion. The facial features are minimalistic with slight incisions to the head.

Date: Circa 1st-4th century AD
Provenance: ‘The Ancient Menagerie Collection’ formerly the property of a Cambridgeshire lady, collected since the 1990s and acquired from auctions and dealers throughout Europe and the USA, now ex London collection.
Condition: Fine condition.


SKU: CY-121 Category: Tag:

Bronze or silver statuettes were popular across the Roman Empire, usually modelled in the shape of gods, goddesses and animals. Such statuettes could have been part of private households or placed in temples as votive offerings. Interestingly, during the Roman Empire, the Asia Minor region was famous for its cast metal sculptures.

In ancient Greek and Roman mythology and culture, panthers were considered to be the faithful companions of the wine god Dionysus, or his Roman counterpart Bacchus. The panthers were sacred to the god, who is often depicted riding them on sculptures, mosaics and wall paintings. The Dionysian thiasos (procession) was one of the favourite subjects in Ancient Roman art. It featured the god and his wife Ariadne at the centre, surrounded and followed by various animals such as panthers, lions, tigers and creatures such as satyrs and nymphs. Exotic and wild animals were associated with the wild and uncontrolled nature of this god.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

Weight 1.06 g
Dimensions L 2.2 x H 1.0 cm