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Roman funerary (cinerary) vase with a carved frieze of cupids riding sea beasts

Late 18th century

Grey Greek marble

Height: 64cm, maximum
Height (excluding lid): 39cm
Height (base): 10cm
Height (frieze): 9.5cm
Circumference (lid): 115cm
Width (bottom of base): 18.5cm, maximum
Length (bottom of base): 18.5cm

Museum number: M838

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 344help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

The lid is enriched with ivy leaves and berries in a continuous wreath. On the side which faces into the dome area a Cupid with a rudder or paddle, emblematic of a sea divinity, rides right on a Sea Bull, facing a similar figure, with emblem broken, on a Hippocamp; there is a trident (symbol of Neptune, God of the Sea) between them. On the opposite side, a Cupid holding Hercules' club (?) on a Sea Griffin faces a similar Cupid as the God Mercury, on a Sea Ram, with another trident between them. The body of the vase is fluted to simulate bronze, and the bottom of the bowl has flat, overlapping acanthus leaves springing from the underside.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Purchased at Lord Bessborough's Sale, Christie's, 7 April 1801, Lot. 73, A capital large Vase, of oval Shape, with Bas-reliefs of Infant Genii on Sea-Horses and various Emblems, exquisitely Sculptured,for £33.12.0. Marginal note in Soane's copy of the Sale Catalogue 32G S [e.g. 32 Guineas Self [or Soane?]

Literature

Description of Sir John Soane's Museum, 1930, p.84, fig. 50 (lower right); also p.82, fig. 48 and 83, fig. 49.


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