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  • image S108
Marble SM S108. ©A.C. Cooper (colour) Ltd

Fragmentary corner of a funerary monument (an architectural niche)

Early Antonine (138-192 AD)

Greek marble, possibly Parian type

Height: 28cm
Width: 20cm
Length: 18cm

Museum number: S108

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 231help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

The fragment is carved on two sides of the corners in two orders which are separated by double moulding in high relief. Above: concave upper moulding strip on which appears a patera from which oil flows to a squat lekythos (vase); beneath this is a garland supported by bukrania (ox skulls), and flattened acanthus leaves. Below: rosette and two birds on an acanthus-leaf nest.

This pilaster capital and start of an enriched shaft formed the upper right corner below the upper mouldings of a decorative architectural ensemble or aedicula (niche) similar to a Second Century AD example found near Todi and now in the Vatican1. The Vatican aedicula probably enclosed a votive statue rather than a fountain figure and, as Gusman and Altmann suggested, may have had a sepulchral origin. The nature of the enrichment on this Soane fragment certainly suggests both a sacrifical and a funerary derivation. When compared with the Vatican monument which belongs perhaps to the Trajanic period, an early Antonine dating appears to suit the less contained and carefully executed carving of this pilaster corner.

In Tatham drawing no.14 on p.12 (which is therefore List 1, no.14) appears the pilaster capital and a minute section of the enriched shaft of what can only be opposite or upper left corner of this aedicula. This now unlocated fragment appears identical in every detail with this piece, but from the nature of the breaks along the bottom must be the pilaster of the other corner seen from the left side. The two pieces must have become separated in the workshop of the dealer from whom Tatham acquired these fragments, for as we know the present example was sent to Henry Holland in the second large consignment to arrive safely (List 2, no.24) and passed to Soane from that source.

1. A.D. Gusman, L'Art décoratif de Roma de la fin de la république au IV siécle, Paris, 1910, III, pl. 128; R.G.K. Altmann, Die Römischen Grabaltäre der Kaiserzeit, Berlin, 1905, p. 139, fig. 114.

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 2, no. 24. (Soane Archive)


Tatham: Etchings, 7; Drawings, 1.

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