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image M758

Fragment of an ancient Roman frieze slab depicting a female figure


Height: 17cm
Width: 19cm
Thickness: 6cm

Museum number: M758

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 476help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

Fragment showing a lady with hair in a roll about the forehead, below a fillet which holds a loop behind and hair off the neck to the shoulders; she is clad in a himation arranged in a roll from the left shoulder, between the breasts to the right side and a sleeved chiton beneath.

Probably from a composition showing females in procession or, more likely, two such ladies flanking a candelabrum, as von Rohden reconstructs a quite similar fragment in Dresden1 which is dated to the early Imperial period. A larger fragment of a similar figure is etched by Piranesi2 and appears to have shown a female pouring a libation with her raised left hand. The piece is associated by him with fragments of all sorts from the columbarium of the freedmen and slaves of Augustus' family.

Double-size Campana-type plaques such as this are extremely rare, although there is no reason why they could not have been executed by the same artists and for the same purposes as their normal counterparts. The British Museum possesses a fragment of a nude youth in athletic pose, similar in size and style to this piece, which was found in Rome in 19103.

Top left is aan early painted Museum number, probably dating from the 19th century.

1 Von Rohden, H., and Winnefeld, H., Die antiken Terracotten, vol. IV. 1,2, (Architektomische römische Tonreliefs der Kaiserzeit.), Text p. 51, fig. 26.
2 G.B. Piranesi, Le Antichitè Romane, 4 vols, fol, Rome, 1784. III, pl. XXIX.
3 British Museum Inv. 1913. 10-21.3.

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