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Roman garlanded funerary urn (cinerarium) with genii figures at the front corners and a separate lid

Proconnesian marble

Height: 45cm
Height (body): 27cm
Height (lid): 9cm

Museum number: M373

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 338help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

The name plate of this urn is framed in a straight, three element moulding above and a wave pattern moulding below. The garland across the front is supported by two winged genii at the corners. Within a curved pediment lid flanked by conventional tragic-mask antefixae is a lion attacking a bull.
Inscribed
D.M.
L. IVLIO. VITALI
GLYCERA. FECIT
CONIVGI. B. M
VIX. AN. XLII. M. II


The deceased was a freedman of a family prominent under Domitian and Trajan.

For the general grouping of the decorative motives found on the front of this urn see Altmann's classification: 'Victorien und Eroten' (W. Altmann, Dir römischen Grabaltäre der Kaiserzeit, Berlin, 1905, Ch. IX, figs. 86 and 89). The Soane urn (Vermeule 339) also falls into this class.

Proconnesian marble is less frequently used for cinerary urns than for Roman second and third century AD sarcophagi (see nos. Vermeule 305 and 307 in this collection). The island of Proconnesus, the modern Marmora or Marmara in the Propontis or Euxine Sea, possessed celebrated quarries of whitish marble, which was used in the house of Mausolus and the temple at Ephesus (as recorded by Vitruvius, De Architectura, Book II, 8 and Book X, 7 and Strabo, Geographica, I, xiii). This marble was widely imported into Rome and North Africa in the Second Century and later, and was used in the arches of Severus and Constantine in Rome. Constantine also used Proconnesian marble in his new city on the Bosphorus (Constantinople) and it became the source of all Byzantine building marble.

Dr. Glenys Davies attributes this urn to Piranesi's workshop: the base of this object is similar to those of other suspected 'Piranesi' urns, which were added to the bodies later.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Rome - "Apud lapicidam (Car. Napolionem) post ecclesiam Graecorum in urbe".

Literature

CIL VI, iii, 20325. Giorgi sched. Casanat. Vol. XVI (who saw it 28 October1736); Maffei M.V.281, 3.


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