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image M425

Roman funerary urn (cinerarium) with rams heads at the corners and a separate lid.

Probably 2nd century AD

Pentelic marble

Height: 48cm
Height (body): 21cm
Height (lid): 15cm
Width (lid): 37cm
Length (lid): 26.5cm

Museum number: M425

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 331help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

The name plate of this urn is richly framed by a double fillet moulding above and single fillet below, flanked by ram's heads from which hang fillets on the sides and a garland between. A pair of birds looking back and upwards are placed at the lower corners. In the large, curved-pediment, front of the lid, griffins guard a candelabrum between acanthus antefixae.

This urn is uninscribed.

Uninscribed cinerary urns with a name plate fitted into the design are not quite as common as those bearing the name of the deceased; a reason for this is that some uninscribed ancient cinerary urns and vases have had inscriptions added to the empty area by the post-Renaissance restorers to heighten their romantic authenticity. For illustrations of a series of uninscribed urns in Berlin, see Königliche Museen zu Berlin, Beschreibung der antiken Skulpturen, Berlin, 1891, p.422f., nos. 1140ff. The Museo Nuovo Capitolino in Rome possesses an urn the entire front of which forms a large, uninscribed name plate (Mustilli, Museo Mussolini, pl.XXIII, no.80-17).

Urns decorated with ram's heads, set inevitably at the upper parts of the front corners with fillets hanging down and a garland suspended in sculptured relief below the inscription plate across the front, are grouped in a separate category by W. Altmann, Dir römischen Grabaltäre der Kaiserzeit, Berlin, 1905 (Chapter VII, 'Verzierung mit Widderköpfen', pp.68-87). The composition and style of this particular example is very close to one illustrated in The British School at Rome, Catalogue of ancient sculptures preserved in the municipal collections of Rome: The sculptures of the Museo Capitolino, ed. H.S. Jones, 2 vols, Oxford, 1912, p.56, no.11, pl.11, which is described as 'indifferent work of the second century AD.'

Provenance help-art-provenance

Unrecorded.

Literature

Description of Sir John Soane's Museum, 1930, p.68, fig.37
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL) VI 5, 3643* (after Sinn, as there is no inscription visible).


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