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image S87

Fragment of Roman interior decoration: the top member of an architrave or door panel, consisting of fillet above cyma reversa enriched with alternate triple bay leaves and hollowed, reversed, waterleaf with foliage inside, all highly stylised; and with a bead and reel moulding below.

27 BC-14 AD
Augustan

Luna marble

Height: 13cm
Width: 26cm

Museum number: S87

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 84help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

This is clearly an Augustan decorative arrangement developed from Hellenistic schemes of enrichment; probably not later than the beginning of the Christian Era. Characteristic is the bead and reel with rounded bead and piano-convex disc reels with "stringing" - also the type of the rich cyma reverse with narrow arch and almost closed upper arch. The characteristically naturalistic double leaf form between the arches of the cut-out waterleaf is also most common in the early Augustan period. This fragment appears to be part of interior architectural enrichment.

The technique of cut-out waterleaf in architectural and relief enrichment decoration becomes very popular in the Flavian period (69-96 AD) when such devices were exploited to secure a rich, lively spirit and a functional understanding of the decorative effect of light and shade in carving1.

1 See the commentary on the comparable decorative relief panels in Boston, L. Caskey, Catalogue of Greek and Roman Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1925, nos. 104, 105. For general information on Flavian architecture and its decoration see von Blanckenhagen, Flavische Architektur und ihre Dekoration, untersucht am Nervaforum, Berlin 1940.

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 See Cornelius Vermeule, unpublished Catalogue of the Antiquities at Sir John Soane's Museum, Introduction, transcription of Tatham letters, List 3, no.26.

Literature

Tatham: Drawings, 8.


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