A bejeweled winged Nike resolutely pulls on the reins of her rearing chariot horses in this elegant gold earring from Greece.
At nearly 2 inches tall and formed in the round, this small vignette of the goddess of Victory must have made an elegant sight with its partner adorning the ears of a wealthy Greek noblewoman in the mid- to late fourth century B.C.E.
The earring is composed of more than a hundred elements intricately soldered together. Gold sheet embellished with wirework and gold balls form the figures of Nike and her team. The goddess wears a belted chiton, or tunic, with a long skirt and several pieces of jewelry, while her wings unfurl behind her as though in flight. Her horses appear frightened as they rear up on their hind legs with eyes wide and muscles tensed.
The Nike group is attached to a disc in the shape of an exquisitely decorated honeysuckle palmette with a teardrop-shaped fruit at its center. Several of the stamens bear remnants of enamel. A loop on the back of the palmette likely attached to an ear wire so it could be worn.
Although not found in a controlled excavation, the piece was discovered in the Greek Peloponnese and sold to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1898 from a private collection.