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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Box Mirror with Relief of Eros
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Cover of Box Mirror
Work Type
late 4th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Hellenistic period, Early
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast and hammered
13.5 cm (5 5/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron
Comments: The three mirror components all have the same elements.
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is a very corroded red and green. Cracking and delamination of the corrosion layers are also present. The mirror is cracked, brittle, fragile, and has areas of loss. The mirror has also been conserved to fill losses and to reinforce the reverse for structural support. The mirror cover was cast and then hammered using the techniques of repoussé and chasing. Some of the surface design may also have been engraved, but its state of preservation makes this difficult to determine.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, David M. Robinson Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
The exterior of this box mirror is decorated with a repoussé relief of a seated Eros facing right and holding a dove in his left hand. His right hand rests on a part of the rocky mass on which he sits. His right leg is extended with the knee bent and his left leg folded behind it. Three-dimensional folds of a piece of fabric project from beneath his right hip. His hair is arranged in a roll at the nape of his neck. A long, loose curl hangs behind his right shoulder; two smaller locks are visible on either side of the base of his neck. His spread wings frame his torso, with the tips of the feathers of his left wing extending almost to the edge of the relief. His face is modeled almost in the round and features a long nose, small closely set eyes, a slightly open mouth, and a rounded chin (1).

The Eros has suffered major losses, especially on the right side of his head, lower thigh, and upper part of his right leg below the knee. Longitudinal cracks appear in his right arm and left forearm, as well as in the lower part of the knobby mass of rock upon which Eros sits. A gray substance fills in portions of the periphery, feathers and top of the right wing, and the area between the right foot and the end of the right wing.

Associated with the relief figure is a fragmentary mirror disc (1972.33.B). It also has the lumpy dark gray corrosion products on both sides. The third part of this mirror ensemble (1972.33.C) has a heavy raised rim consisting of two convex fillets within narrower raised ridges.

An elongated rectangular cavity on one edge of the rim cuts through the upper convex fillet, probably intended for a hinge attached to the cover. The underside is marked by two concentric convex fillets bounded by pairs of smaller ridges that surround a central raised circular element consisting of a flattened central area with a small central cavity. The central punch mark suggests that this part of the mirror ensemble may have been turned on a lathe after it was cast.


1. For a list of box-mirror covers with a seated Eros, see A. Schwarzmaier, Griechische Klappspiegel: Untersuchungen zu Typologie und Stil, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 18 (Berlin, 1997) 269; for the date, see also, ibid., 356.

David G. Mitten

Publication History

  • Diana M. Buitron, "A Greek Bronze Mirror", Fogg Art Museum Annual Report 1971-1972, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971-1972), 19-24
  • Richard De Puma, Corpus Speculorum Etruscorum; U.S.A.: volume 2: Boston and Cambridge, Iowa State University Press (Ames, IA, 1993), p. 60, no. 41, figs. 41.a-c (as XKC 8).
  • Agnes Schwarzmaier, Griechische Klappspiegel: Untersuchungen zu Typologie und Stil, Gerbüder Mann Verlag (Berlin, 1997), pp. 268-69, no. 85, pl. 26.1.

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at