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Overall: 50.3 x 46.3 x 14 cm (19 13/16 x 18 1/4 x 5 1/2 in.)
The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Collection 1944.126
Although Louis Jean Desprez’s design was largely inspired by tombs in southern Italy, he added sphinxes in his print Tomb with Sphinx due to his fascination with ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians saw the sphinx, a half-human, half-lion mythological creature, as a protector of tombs and temples. The pair of andirons, decorative supports for a hearth’s firewood, alongside Tomb with Sphinx, highlight the growing interest in Egyptomania during the 1700s. Interestingly, the andirons portray ancient Greek and Roman interpretations of the sphinx. Most Europeans learned of ancient Egypt by studying Egyptomania in ancient Roman and Greek art and architecture or Egyptian antiquities brought over by the Romans.
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