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  • image M1162.F

Fragment from a frieze depicting the hall of a palaestra

Mid 1st century AD


Height: 10cm
Width: 7cm

Museum number: M1162.F

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 472help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

This fragment is mounted with a number of others, set in plaster in a timber frame. The photograph with this entry shows the whole of the fragment but includes the edges of the adjacent pieces. It is from the centre of a 'Palaestra Hall' (a palaestra was a wrestling/boxing school) type of cresting plaque (Group IV type).

This surviving section depicts the torso, arms and legs to the knees of a standing statue of Herakles (Hercules), lion's skin over his left arm, his club in his right hand (its end would have been beside his right foot).

There are several major and a number of minor varieties of these palaestra compositions, depending on the arrangement of the architectural background (usually a columnar hall) and the figures or objects found between the columns.1 Generally the figure of Herakles in the centre, and the athletes (including an Apoxyomenos) in the pairs of intercolumnations either side, are all set on bases, indicating that statues are shown. These 'statues' shed light on the settings for such Roman copies and are important for the identification of important fourth-century BC originals2. The statues reproduced on these plaques are generally of the fourth century BC from the ateliers of the Greek sculptors Skopas and Lysippos. The Palaestra compositions show how such statues of athletic gods or heroes and Olympic competitors were set up in the niches or peristyle colonnades of Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman gymnastic establishments3.

1 H. Von Rohden and H. Winnefeld, Die antiken Terracotten, (Architektomische römische Tonreliefs der Kaiserzeit) IV, pp. 144-152, pp. 280-281, 306-307, pls. LXXXII, LXXXIII, CXLII, 2; CXLIII.
2 See The Burlington Magazine, CX, 1968, pp. 547, fig. 5, 552.
3 See also C.C. Vermeule, N.B. Comstock, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art, The Classical Collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1972, pp. 234, 273, fig. 276b.

Provenance help-art-provenance

See Vermeule 459 (M1162.A).


H. Von Rohden and H. Winnefeld, Die antiken Terracotten, vol. IV. 1,2, (Architektomische römische Tonreliefs der Kaiserzeit), p.146.

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