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Lot 0056
Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 2nd century CE. A finely carved section of marble sarcophagus frieze depicting Apollo, the god of music, playing a lyre or kithara. Wearing scant draped garments that still reveal much of his torso, right arm, and left leg, the deity's pose implies motion and activity. Apollo supports the lyre on his bent left knee, and his right arm, though now missing the forearm and hand, appears to be reaching across his body, as if he once plucked the strings of his instrument. His head is turned toward his right, looking over his left shoulder, and presents a handsome visage with skillfully delineated delicate features crowned by a wavy coiffure with long locks drawn back and secured by a band tied in a bow atop his head, as well as a few curls cascading past his shoulders. Size: 9.5" W x 20.75" H (24.1 cm x 52.7 cm); 23.75" H (60.3 cm) on included custom stand.

This composition presenting Apollo holding a lyre in his right hand and looking back over his left shoulder was featured on several sarcophagi dating from the 2nd to 3rd century CE - see, for example, E. Simon, "Apollon/Apollo," in LIMC, vol. II, nos. 375a, 376, 380, 462a, and 471. As we see in this example, there is a partially preserved section of a wing by Apollo's left foot. This wing most likely belonged to a griffin who is oftentimes accompanying Apollo - pulling the god's sun chariot across the sky.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Christie's, New York Antiquities auction (sale 14356, October 25, 2017, lot 50); ex-private New York, New York, USA collection, acquired in 1995

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A fragment from a larger sarcophagus relief. Losses to peripheries, right forearm, left knee, right foot, outermost end of lyre, and other high-pointed areas. Verso is uncarved. Earthen deposits on surface as shown.

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Roman Marble Sarcophagus Section, Apollo, ex Christie's

Estimate $20,000 - $30,000May 22, 2019