About this artwork
This mosaic fragment was once part of a larger composition that paved the floor of a wealthy family villa in the Eastern Mediterranean. Composed of thousands of small tesserae, or stone cubes, it shows a giraffe and a human handler standing against a decorative backdrop of scallop-shaped semicircles. No doubt originally set amid a profusion of other wild and exotic animals, giraffes such as this one captivated the imagination of those who saw them in parades and public games. Writing around the turn of the third century, the historian Cassius Dio (about A.D. 150–235), among others, called this marvelous creature a Camelopardus because, in his opinion, the giraffe combined the physical traits of both the camel and the leopard.
- Mosaic Fragment with Man Leading a Giraffe
- 401 CE–500 CE
- Stone in mortar
- 170.8 × 167 × 6.35 cm (67 1/4 × 65 3/4 × 2 1/2 in.)
- Gift of Mrs. Robert B. Mayer