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Home > Auctions > 24th May 2022 > Roman Marble Sarcophagus Excavated near the Tomb of Cecilia Metella in Rome

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LOT 0103

GBP (£) 10,000 - 14,000
EUR (€) 11,660 - 16,330
USD ($) 12,490 - 17,490

Sold for (Inc. bp): £16,250



A rectangular marble sarcophagus with the front panel decorated with two opposing series of double strigilatures (spiral fluting) with matching sharp concave edges, converging in the centre where the tabula inscriptionis is located; the latter, of quadrangular shape, enclosed within a moulded frame not occupying the entire height of the box, but showing a pulvinus (cushion) in the lower part, bound above and below by a smooth strip and on the sides by two slightly protruding semi-circular elements; the internal compartment of the box with rounded comers, the sides and back smooth; the table bearing a later inscription on five lines: 'D(is) M(anibus)/ C.Tutilio.Rufino. / Venatori. / T.Claudius. Secundus. / Amico. B(ene).M(erenti). P(osuit)'. 19 3/4 x 81 3/4 x 21 3/4 in. (50 x 208 x 55.5 cm). Fine condition. This lot is only available for viewing at our Harwich premises.

Excavated near the tomb of Cecilia Metella in Rome by the Duke of Buckingham in 1828, and removed to Stowe House, Buckinghamshire.
Acquired Christie's at the Stowe sale in 1848, lot 115, by the Earl of Lonsdale and removed to Lowther Castle, Penrith, Cumbria.
Purchased at the sale of the contents of Lowther Castle in June 1957.
Later with Heathcote Ball & Co, The Ashby Folville Manor Sale, Leicestershire, 15th March 1984, lot 116.
Property of a North American collector.
Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Laura Maria Vigna.
Accompanied by scholarly note TL05424 by Dr Ronald Bonewitz.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11172-187994.

Cf. Koch, G., Sichtermann, H., Romische Sarkophage, Munchen, 1982, pp.73-76 and 241-245; Ramieri, A.M., in Museo Nazionale Romano, Le Sculture, I, 3, Roma 1982, n. II, 31, pp.62-64; Sapelli, M. in Museo Nazionale Romano, Le Sculture, l, 7, Parte II, Roma 1984, n. Xtr, 8, pp.374-375, no. XII 10, pp.376-377, XV,20, p.459; for the strigillated sarcophagi and on the various compositional schemes used in them, and on the origin of the strigillated decoration see in detail Koch-Sichtermann 1982, with bibl. prev.

The strigilature are decorative elements with wavy grooves that recall the shape of the strigil, the curved implement that Roman athletes and bathers used to scrape oil from their bodies. They are very frequent in the Roman Imperial age starting from the 2nd century A.D., with a particular diffusion in the 3rd century A.D. and in the production of the Early Christian art of the following century. They are carved in parallel series, especially in the ornamentation of sarcophagi, urns and vases. The strigilature are frequently framed by architectural elements or interspersed with figurative decorations, inscriptions and protomes. The sarcophagus can be placed for typological comparisons to the 3rd century A.D., probably made in the first half of the century, considering the accuracy of the workmanship and the chiaroscuro performance of the strigilature (for sarcophagi of this type see Ramieri, A.M. and Sapelli, M. in bibl.). It is possible that the inscription was redone in its present form at a later time in the 19th century.