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  • image M137

A Roman corinthian capital from the Emperor Hadrian's villa at Tivoli

117-138 AD

Luna marble

Height: 50cm
Width (top, corner to corner): 64cm

Museum number: M137

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 45help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

At the bottom of this capital is a lower ring of eight leaves, four placed axially. From behind the diagonal leaves, volutes rise to the abacus, each volute being covered and enriched by rising acanthus leaf. Between each pair of volutes, stalks rise from small acanthus sheaths and are united together with a central stalk before turning left and right into five petalled flowers. The central stalk reaches the abacus where it terminates in a flower.

This capital is from the Peristyle court of Hadrian's Villa (Villa Adriana) at Tivoli. A number of similar capitals can be seen on the ground or set on shafts in several of the main excavated chambers and courts of the villa complex1; a related capital was engraved by Piranesi2 as from the villa, so we can be sure more than one example passed through his hands.

A parallel in style and arrangement of enrichment is afforded by a Roman capital now in the Processional of S. Giovanni in Laterano3. The dimensions are the same and Ronczewski suggests a Flavian date for the S. Giovanni example. His photographic parallels4 emphasise the popularity of the style throughout the Roman west5.

1 Freyberger, on Corinthian capitals of the Villa Hadriana, pp. 69 - 73. Also see Hadrien, Trésors d'une villa impériale, exhibition catalogue, Milan 1999, esp. pp. 190 - 192, cat.no 36 - 38.
2 VCC, pl. III. Wilton-Ely, has no number p. [1088] - the only capital from the Villa Hadriana in Piranesi's Vasi, candelabri etc is depicted on a sheet by Francesco Piranesi and very different from the capital here.
3 Rome, Ronczewski, in Arch. Anz., 1931, col. 8 ff., fig.13; esp. 51 and fig. 45.
4 Ronczewski, Loc.cit., figs. 44 ff.; as well as Ronczewski, AA 1934, 49, fig. 30.
5 On the development of the Corinthian capital from the Late Republic to the Empire, see L. Pagorlind, in Corolla Archaeologica, pp. 118 ff., and more recent, Freyberger.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Rome; said to have come from Hadrian's Villa (Villa Adriana) at Tivoli.Collected by Charles Heathcote Tatham for the architect Henry Holland during the 1790s. See Cornelius Vermeule, unpublished Catalogue of the Antiquities at Sir John Soane's Museum, Introduction.


Tatham: Etchings, 8; Drawings, 7.
Soane, Description, 1835, p.35.
Description of Sir John Soane's Museum, 1930, p.64, figure 33 (left).

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk