Winged Genius
On View In:
Gallery 240
Artist:   Unknown  
Title:   Winged Genius  
Date:   c. 883-859 BCE  
Medium:   Limestone  
Dimensions:   90 x 41 in. (228.6 x 104.14 cm)  
Credit Line:   The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund  
Location:   Gallery 240  

This panel was taken from the remains of the Northwest imperial palace at Nimrud, the capital of the Assyrian empire, now located in modern Iraq. The walls of the palace, constructed by Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BCE), were decorated with stone panels carved in low relief, narrating his hunting and military exploits. This genius, or demi-god, was part of a grouping of winged creatures facing a stylized tree, a scene repeated numerous times in the palace. They appear to be performing fertility rites associated with the date palm, a tree held sacred by the Assyrians because it provides food, drink, wood and shelter. The cuneiform text which covers the surface is part of a standard inscription that extols the victories and greatness of Ashurnasirpal and describes the building of his palace. Traces remain of the bright colors with which the panel was painted, increasing its visual impact. The palace at Nimrud was excavated between 1845 and 1851 CE by Sir Austin H. Layard working on behalf of the British Museum. This panel was among a number of palace sculptures acquired at that time for private and public collections in the United States, making them the first examples of ancient Mesopotamian art to reach the Western world.

Name:   Unknown  

Object Description  
Inscriptions:   Inscription inscription in cuneiform (Akkadian), extolling King Ashurnasirpal and the building of the palace  
Classification:   Sculpture  
Physical Description:   low relief carving of a Winged Genius, from the Northwest palace of Ashur-Nasir-Pal at Nimrud; a wide band of inscribed writing crosses the slab in the central section  
Creation Place:   Asia, Iraq, , , Nimrud (Assyria)  
Accession #:   41.9  
Owner:   The Minneapolis Institute of Arts