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image M895

Section of figurated enriched frieze

Luna marble

Height: 26.5cm
Length: 141cm
Thickness: 11.5cm

Museum number: M895

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 108help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

This fragment is perhaps part of the same figured frieze which appears in Cavaceppi1 and which is said to be in England, although we can only speculate on general appearance and similarity of the crushed waterleaf moulding to the Vatican example2. This Soane fragment appears to be the frieze which was destined for Ince Blundell but which must have been secured for Henry Holland instead.

The fragment is from a figurated, acanthus scrolled frieze, and has bead and reel moulding at the top and plain fillet at the bottom. Within the acanthus leaves appear two clamys-clad Genii (running/going right and left respectively, left and right arms out, palms open in the later antique gesture of Victory). There are the lower limbs of a third, similar figure remaining at the left. Alternating with these human figures are three cheetahs running left - around the bodies of which curl single stalks from the acanthus foliage beneath their legs which also scrolls up before and over them.

Possible sections of the same frieze are seen in two examples in the Museo Chiaramonti in the Vatican in which the top of the frieze with bead and reel is broken off and the fillet and the top two carved courses etc., of the architrave remain3. Here the beasts alternating with the striding Genii include stags and lions. Though there are several series of closely related but stylistically and qualitatively different figured friezes of this type and size scattered about Rome4, this Soane frieze and those sections in the Museo Chiaramonti may also be connected with part of the frieze built into the medieval Casa di Crescenzio at the corer of the Via Bocca della Verità near the circular temple by the Tiber5.

A considerably larger, probably contemporary, parallel lies in the carving of the similarly animated scrollwork in the Baths of Caracalla (Rome), which shows a boar with acanthus stem winding about his body and which forms the enrichment of a frieze and architrave fragment6. A large fragment of entablature (frieze and architrave, sculptured on both long sides) within the modern entrance of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli and from the buildings of the Piazzo d'Oro7 shows the evolution of the Hunting Putto frieze in the early second century - with careful carving and very little obvious drillwork, and the Flavian prototype for Severan and later carving such as the frieze with which we deal is best illustrated at its high noon in the Aula Regia of Domitian's palace on the Palatine8, dated within a few years of 90 AD.

1 Cavaceppi, Raccolta, III, pl. 32.
2 Compare cap. Ince, Engravings, pl. 94, 1; A. Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, trans. C.A.M. Fennell, Cambridge, 1882, no. 252, not or never at Ince, see B. Ashmole, A Catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Ince Blundell Hall, Oxford 1929, p. 94, no. 252.
3 Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican, nos. XXXVI, 24, 1539; 26, 1541.
4 See Papers of the British School at Rome, XVIII, 1950, pp.18ff.
5 Bertarelli, L.V., Guida d'Italia del Touring Club Italiano. Roma e dintorni.(Milano, 1934), p. 366. S. Stefano Rotondo, more information, Krautheimer, Corpus, vol IV, pp. 199-140 and the new Roman topographical dictionary, Steinby, vol. IV, pp. 373-376, S. Stephanus in Monte Celio (= S. Stefano Rotondo). cp. no 81, M595.
6 P. Gusman, L'Art décoratif de Rome de la fin de la république au IV siècle, 2 vols, Paris, 1910, III, pl. 176, no.2; cp. also Papers of the British School at Rome, XVIII, 1950, pl. IX, fig.1.
7 P. Gusman, La Villa impériale de Tibur (Villa Hadriana), Paris, 1904, p. 244 f.; W. Amelung, Die Skulpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin, 1903-08, Volume 1 - 1903; volume 2 - 1908. I, pl. 36, 62.
8 Papers of the British School at Rome, XVIII, 1950, p. 11f, pl. IX, 2.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Rome; collected 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, Letters, List 3, no. 29.


Tatham: Etchings, 17; Drawings, 8.

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