Couch decoration in the form of a horse’s head
Unknown artist, Roman
Couch decoration in the form of a horse’s head, 2nd century CE
17 x 13.5 x 13.5 cm (6 11/16 x 5 5/16 x 5 5/16 inches)
Museum purchase with funds from Museum Appropriation Fund and Mrs. Gustav Radeke 27.221
With its strong twist to the right, mane falling in spirals, nostrils flaring, and mouth open, this bronze horse’s head was a dramatic finial for the headrest or armrest of a Roman couch. The panther skin tied around the horse’s neck is a reference to the god of wine, Bacchus, and would have made the couch it once decorated a particularly appropriate prop for a Roman banquet; at such events participants reclined on couches. Romans used elaborately decorated couches for dining, entertaining, and even sleeping.