Relief with the head of a winged genius

Relief with the head of a winged genius
Northwest Palace, Nimrud, Iraq
Neo-Assyrian period, reign of Ashurnasirpal II, 883-859 BCE
Gypsum; 64 x 61 cm
Inv. O.1934

Assyrian reliefs convey the taste for luxury and pomp of the Mesopotamian kings who reigned over the entire Near East in the early 1st millennium BCE. This relief, featuring a winged genius, a fragment of a panel at least 2,3 metres tall, and the 'standard inscription' carved over it, were part of a ritual scene frequently reproduced in the palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud. The genius wears a crown with horns, a traditional attribute of a protective spirit who must defend the king against demons and come to his aid to defeat his enemies. All the details are carefully rendered in conformity with Assyrian canon: the divine headpiece, the curly long hair and beard, the magnificent ear pendant and the fringed garment. The high relief creates interplays of light which distort the genius, who becomes an imposing guardian of the sovereign's new residence.


Discover this masterpiece on the online museum catalogue Carmentis, in the gallery Near East and Iran and in the book Masterpieces.