A Romano-British bronze horse-and-rider enamelled brooch

A Romano-British bronze horse-and-rider enamelled brooch

Code: 2417

Description: A bronze horse-and-rider enamelled brooch with good detail of the mane and hair of the horse and rider, with a dark green patina. Traces of red enamel remaining, the pin lost and the catchplate and legs of the horse corroded, but overall a nice example.

Size: 29 mm/1.1 ins. across

Culture: Romano-British

Date: c. 2nd - 3rd Century A.D.

Provenance: Ex Seward Kennedy Collection, Norland Place, London.

Background: Seward Kennedy (1925-2015) was a successful lawyer and passionate collector who over six decades, assembled a veritable cabinet of curiosities which filled his homes in London and New York City. This diverse collection included tribal, Indian, tantric, Chinese and Japanese items as well as contemporary art. In the 1950s-1960s he worked as a lawyer for the Mobil Corporation and travelled extensively in Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. His strong interest in antiquities led him to assemble a fine collection of artefacts from a number of civilisations. Few items in the Seward Kennedy Collection are provenanced, as most were bought at a time when provenance was not regarded as particularly important. Also Kennedy was more concerned with their aesthetics, to him a fine modern knapped arrowhead was just as worthy of collection as a prehistoric piece.

Notes: Horse-and-rider brooches are a relatively rare plate brooch type featuring a mounted man facing right, decorated with enamel cells and often show traces of silvering. The small pins and limited clearance between the pin and brooch suggest they were worn for show rather than having a functional use. The disproportionate large size of the rider has been postulated as indicating divine status. For discussion of this brooch type, see Fillery-Travis (2012).

References: Fillery-Travis, R. (2012). Multidisciplinary analysis of Roman horse-and-rider brooches from Bosworth, In Schrüfer-Kolb I. (Ed.) 2012. More Than Just Numbers – The Role of Science in Roman Archaeology, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 135-162.

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