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Roman Lead Sarcophagus Panel, ex-Arte Primitivo

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Roman Lead Sarcophagus Panel, ex-Arte Primitivo
Item Details
Description
Roman, Holy Land / Phoenicia, ca. 2nd to 4th century CE. A remarkable lead sarcophagus panel executed in relief divided into 2 quadrilateral frames with braided borders, each filled with traditional Roman imagery. A gorgoneion or head of a gorgon - a mythological woman with hair of snakes - is featured at the center of each section, both heads surrounded by rondels, as well as 4 leaves that point inwards. The left side of the piece is additionally adorned by a dolphin, whose sinuous body curves along the right border, as though about to dive. This example is replete with symbolism. The leaves refer to actual garlands and flowers used to decorate tombs and altars. The gorgoneion has apotropaic functions as guardians of tombs and were used frequently in ancient homes to avert evil from entering. Size (of panel): 13.3" L x 4.9" H (33.8 cm x 12.4 cm); Size (of board): 15.8" L x 8" H (40.1 cm x 20.3 cm)

The dolphins, meanwhile, remind us of a powerful and popular motif in Roman artwork. The Romans were largely a maritime empire, and the iconography of the sea included dolphins. Romans believed these animals carried souls to the Fortunate Isles, perhaps because they could pass through the air-breathing terrestrial world and into the watery depths that claimed so many Roman sailors' lives. This symbol must have had personal significance for the deceased, who often ordered coffins to be made long before they died. Dolphins can also be a reference to the cult of Bacchus (equivalent to the Greek god Dionysus).

Prior to the 2nd century, Romans cremated their dead; around that time, they became inspired by the Greek and Etruscan practice of using sarcophagi, and they began to make coffins. This trend spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire and between social stratums. While those of nobility would commission marble sarcophagi, the middle class would commission lead sarcophagi, such as this one. Lead sarcophagi were only made in Phoenicia, or the Eastern part of the empire, but were shipped west due to popularity.

Provenance: ex-Arte Primitivo, New York, USA, auction #100, December 15th, 2020, lot 461; ex-Long Island, New York, USA collection; ex-Aphrodite Ancient Art, New York City, New York, USA

All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to recent increases of shipments being seized by Australian & German customs (even for items with pre-UNESCO provenance), we will no longer ship most antiquities and ancient Chinese art to Australia & Germany. For categories of items that are acceptable to ship to Australia or Germany, please contact us directly or work with your local customs brokerage firm.

Display stands not described as included/custom in the item description are for photography purposes only and will not be included with the item upon shipping.

#167678
Condition
Fragment of a larger piece. Expected softening of detail with nicks and abrasions throughout, all commensurate with age. Otherwise, very nice with lovely patina. Mounted on an old cloth covered board.
Buyer's Premium
  • 26.5%

Roman Lead Sarcophagus Panel, ex-Arte Primitivo

Estimate $1,500 - $2,250
Dec 02, 2021
See Sold Price
Starting Price $750
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Ships from Louisville, CO, United States
Local Pick-Up Louisville, CO, United States
Artemis Gallery

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0036B: Roman Lead Sarcophagus Panel, ex-Arte Primitivo

Sold for $750
1 Bid
Est. $1,500 - $2,250Starting Price $750
Fine Antiquities | Asian | Ethnographic Art
Dec 02, 2021 10:00 AM EST
Buyer's Premium 26.5%

Lot 0036B Details

Description
...
Roman, Holy Land / Phoenicia, ca. 2nd to 4th century CE. A remarkable lead sarcophagus panel executed in relief divided into 2 quadrilateral frames with braided borders, each filled with traditional Roman imagery. A gorgoneion or head of a gorgon - a mythological woman with hair of snakes - is featured at the center of each section, both heads surrounded by rondels, as well as 4 leaves that point inwards. The left side of the piece is additionally adorned by a dolphin, whose sinuous body curves along the right border, as though about to dive. This example is replete with symbolism. The leaves refer to actual garlands and flowers used to decorate tombs and altars. The gorgoneion has apotropaic functions as guardians of tombs and were used frequently in ancient homes to avert evil from entering. Size (of panel): 13.3" L x 4.9" H (33.8 cm x 12.4 cm); Size (of board): 15.8" L x 8" H (40.1 cm x 20.3 cm)

The dolphins, meanwhile, remind us of a powerful and popular motif in Roman artwork. The Romans were largely a maritime empire, and the iconography of the sea included dolphins. Romans believed these animals carried souls to the Fortunate Isles, perhaps because they could pass through the air-breathing terrestrial world and into the watery depths that claimed so many Roman sailors' lives. This symbol must have had personal significance for the deceased, who often ordered coffins to be made long before they died. Dolphins can also be a reference to the cult of Bacchus (equivalent to the Greek god Dionysus).

Prior to the 2nd century, Romans cremated their dead; around that time, they became inspired by the Greek and Etruscan practice of using sarcophagi, and they began to make coffins. This trend spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire and between social stratums. While those of nobility would commission marble sarcophagi, the middle class would commission lead sarcophagi, such as this one. Lead sarcophagi were only made in Phoenicia, or the Eastern part of the empire, but were shipped west due to popularity.

Provenance: ex-Arte Primitivo, New York, USA, auction #100, December 15th, 2020, lot 461; ex-Long Island, New York, USA collection; ex-Aphrodite Ancient Art, New York City, New York, USA

All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to recent increases of shipments being seized by Australian & German customs (even for items with pre-UNESCO provenance), we will no longer ship most antiquities and ancient Chinese art to Australia & Germany. For categories of items that are acceptable to ship to Australia or Germany, please contact us directly or work with your local customs brokerage firm.

Display stands not described as included/custom in the item description are for photography purposes only and will not be included with the item upon shipping.

#167678
Condition
...
Fragment of a larger piece. Expected softening of detail with nicks and abrasions throughout, all commensurate with age. Otherwise, very nice with lovely patina. Mounted on an old cloth covered board.

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