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Fragment of a relief depicting the base of a candelabrum

Possibly Early Julio-Claudian (14-70 AD)

Pentelic marble

Height: 49cm
Width: 30cm
Thickness: 10cm

Museum number: M636

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 107help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

A fragment from a relief panel showing the foliate support, base body and two feet of a candelabrum. The rough raised edging at the right, perhaps a moulding strip, could be either the start of further relief carving, the edge of a relief panel, or, less likely, the corner of a sarcophagus. The motive is found on the end of an early Julio-Claudian Cafarelli sarcophagus in Berlin1 - a candelabrum between two laurel branches in an enframement of waterleaf moulding - and the thickness and carving of this fragment could argue a similar, later origin.

There is, however, an identical piece showing a similar candelabrum base lying on the marble pile on the right, from the upper entrance to the Domus Augustana on the Palatine Hill, Rome. This piece and the Soane fragment probably represent fragments of the same element, today a broken-up architectural frieze; the same detail of drill work in these candelabra is represented on the Foliate Genii and Victoriae frieze from the Domus Flavia2.

There are a number of other sections and fragments of this same frieze lying about the Domus Augustana area and all appear from the peculiarly inferior technical details in cutting to belong to the Severan rebuilding of the Augustan and Flavian edifices.

Over the walled-up door behind the South Transept of the Cathedral at Pisa - the Porta di Papa Colazio - is a fragment of a frieze and architrave which, if not Flavian, may be Severan from the leaf and drillwork and the squashed waterleaf. In the centre of the frieze fragment there is the remains of a candelabrum base in relief similar in every aspect to the Domus Augustana examples and this Soane example. This presents several possibilities: the Domitianic imperial palace architecture in Rome probably had a strong influence on provincial work within its own time and during the frequently mentioned Severan "revival" of Flavian forms, we may consider the building from which this fragment came a product of these influences emanating from the Palatine glories of the capital. This is unless we consider the not impossible and very likely proposition that the fragment was brought from Rome, from the Palatine itself.

1 G. Rodenwaldt, Der Sarkophag Caffarelli, 83, BWPr.; Königliche Museen zu Berlin, Beschreibung der antiken Skulpturen, Berlin, 1891, pp. 327-328, no. 843a; P. Ducati, L'Arte in Roma dalle origine al sec VIII, Bologna, 1938, pl.LXXXIX, no. 2; Reinach, S., Répertoire de la Statuaire Grecque et Romaine II-VI, Paris, 1897, II, p. 51; 2, 3 'has been suspected'. See also other entries by Vermeule on Soane candelabra, Vermeule catalogue numbers 184 - 212 (in Soane collections online find these at antiquities/candelabra and decorative shafts).
2 Compare no. 6585 in the Farnese Collection, Naples: Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, 1936, Vol. I, 51, figs. 7f; Papers of the British School at Rome, XVIII, 1950, p. 18f.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Unrecorded (Rome). In the Soane collection by 10 January 1837 (Soane's death).

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