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image M861

Fragmentary top section of a piece of Roman furniture consisting of the head of lion behind which rises an unusually high, heavy rectangular support, probably in this case part of a table leg

Egyptian granite

Height: 29.5cm
Width: 8.5cm
Depth: 14cm

Museum number: M861

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 248help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

Table legs such as the type from which this fragment probably came were often carved in wood (and therefore have not been preserved) and this can be illustrated by the charming relief scene from a sarcophagus front or tombstone (?) of a wood worker, a tablemaker, now in the Vatican Magazine.1 Beneath a Third Century AD medallion portrait of the deceased in toga, we see him sitting on a camp-type stool in the act of putting the finishing touches to a table leg propped against his workbench, while an assistant approaches from the left with more materials. Two miniature table legs of this sort - probably intended for a small couchside table - have been found in Egypt, perfectly preserved by the dry climate, and are at present in the Gayer Anderson Collection, Department of Archaeology, University College, London2.

For the possible use of heads in a decorative function of this type and definitely at least, connected with modern restoration as table legs, compare example E. Espérandieu, Recueil général des Bas-reliefs de la Gaule Romaine, Paris, 1907, V, p. 145, no. 3897, and p. 152, no. 3915 (Musée de Compiègne).

1 No. 3262; Gummerus, Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 28, 1913, p. 120, no. 34; W. Amelung, Die Skulpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, 2 vols, Berlin, 1903-08, I, pl. 107, no. 162; S. Reinach, Répertoire de Reliefs Grecs et Romains, 3 vols, Paris, 1909-12, III, p. 405, fig. 2; O. Jahn and Darstell, Sächs Berichte, 1861, pl.X, 1, p. 338.
2 Gayer-Anderson Collection, nos. 205-206 [this reference comes from the Vermeule catalogue and it appears that these items are no longer at UCL: the Gayer Anderson collection is largely at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and does contain wooden furniture legs from Ancient Egypt.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Rome; collected in Rome by Charles Heathcote Tatham for the architect Henry Holland during the 1790s. See Cornelius Vermeule, unpublished catalogue of the Antiquities at Sir John Soane's Museum, Introduction, transcription of Tatham letters, List 3, no. 35.

Literature

Tatham: Drawings, 8.


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