A large stone carving occupies the center of the image. Above is rough-cut stone, indicating that the carving is part of a larger stone setting; below is a recess and darkness, indicating that the carving acts as a kind of decorative lintel above a cave entrance. The carving itself consists of eight square zones (or metopes) and within each is a decorative pattern of radial symetry (circles) or vegetative imagery.
The frieze in the photograph is set at the entrance to a first century CE tomb in Jerusalem. Salzmann, who was trained as a painter and was friends with the Orientalist painter Eugene Fromentin, first become interested in archaeology in 1847 when the two painters traveled to Algeria. Salzmann around this time took up photography and was commissioned in 1854 by the French Ministry of Purlic instruction to photograph historical monuments--Roman and pre-Roman--in Jerusalem. His photographs were to be used to substantiate claims by the French archeologist Louis Caignart de Saulcy that there were many monuments that dated back to Biblical times.
This sculpture represents an angel bending slightly toward the left with his head tilted downward. Carved slots in his back would have held his wings, and the figure has lost his forearms and hands as well as his legs below the knees.
This figure can be identified as an angel through the two slots carved in its back that would have held wings. The angel would have appeared alongside other similar sculptures in the interior of a church in the Paris region, where it might have been paired with a figure of the Virgin to form an Annunciation group or perhaps accompanied other angels as part of an ensemble around an altar.