The Great Sphinx of Giza is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt, completed around 2500 BC. It is also one of the most recognizable monuments in the world. Two thousand years ago—during the Greco-Roman Period—rich and powerful citizens made the difficult journey to stand before what was at that point an antiquity.
The Sphinx crouches along the West Bank of the River Nile, carved out of the bedrock under the plain. The large mass of extraneous stone, removed during the carving, was intended to be used to build a temple surrounding the Sphinx (though this was never completed). The Sphinx stands 66 feet high and 240 feet long. It was originally painted, archaeologists believe, because traces of color have been found in the pores of the stone. Archaeologists speculate that the monument was modeled after the Pharaoh Khafre who built the second of the Great Pyramids nearby. The face also resembles other statues of that king, though no written record has been found to confirm this theory.
It is unclear what name the Sphinx was given prior to the Greco-Roman period. Traditionally, a sphinx is a mythological Greek creature, usually with a woman's head and a winged lion's body. Once the Greeks and Romans began to visit this (increasingly popular) tourist spot—around the time of Christ—the name Sphinx became commonly used.
These bookends were made in the 1920's, a period of exploration and dramatic discovery in Egypt. Howard Carter and his crew "discovered" King Tutankhamen"s tomb on 4 November 1922. This spurred a furious interest, in the West, for all things Egyptian. It also lead to an aesthetic "Egyptian Revival" in art, entertainment and architecture. Note the frequent interplay of Egyptian motifs and decorative elements in Art Deco architecture and interior design of the Twenties and Thirties. This pair of bronze-clad bookends may have been made in response to the public interest in "Egyptianalia." They are marked "Armor Bronze, New York City." Click on the photo above to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248