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Complete Roman Lead Sarcophagus Panel Leaping Dolphins

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Complete Roman Lead Sarcophagus Panel Leaping Dolphins
Item Details
Description
Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 2nd to 3rd century CE. A rare complete panel from a lead sarcophagus, its surface decorated with relief images encoded by its makers with deep meaning about how Romans memorialized their elite dead. The top and bottom are bordered by wide horizontal bands of repeated dense leaves. In the center, vines weave through each other forming broad X's with large-petaled flowers at their centers. Above and below are repeated leaping dolphins. Size: 20.5" W x 67.5" H (52.1 cm x 171.4 cm) The panel is mounted on a piece of wood with a slightly smaller footprint.

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 lead coffins. This trend spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire. In the western part - where this panel likely came from, based on the leaf motif - sarcophagi were placed inside a mausoleum against a wall or in a niche. The leaves refer to actual garlands and flowers used to decorate tombs and altars. The dolphins, meanwhile, remind us of a powerful and common 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 lead coffins to be made long before they died - the process of making them required such a long time that they could not be rushed!

Provenance: private Dallas, Texas, USA collection; ex-Civilization Gallery, acquired in 1992

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.

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#146670
Condition
Unrepaired and unrestored, with a few small tears, mainly at the peripheries, and one small area of loss near the upper right (facing). Edges are curled under in places. Overall in great condition for its age and material, with nice patina and deposits on the surface that are commensurate with age but do not obscure the artwork.
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Complete Roman Lead Sarcophagus Panel Leaping Dolphins

Estimate $15,000 - $20,000
Apr 09, 2020
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Starting Price $7,500
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Artemis Gallery

Artemis Gallery

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0043: Complete Roman Lead Sarcophagus Panel Leaping Dolphins

Lot Passed
0 Bids
Est. $15,000 - $20,000Starting Price $7,500
Antiquities | Asian | Ethnographic | Fine Art
Apr 09, 2020 10:00 AM EDT
Buyer's Premium 24.5%

Lot 0043 Details

Description
...
Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 2nd to 3rd century CE. A rare complete panel from a lead sarcophagus, its surface decorated with relief images encoded by its makers with deep meaning about how Romans memorialized their elite dead. The top and bottom are bordered by wide horizontal bands of repeated dense leaves. In the center, vines weave through each other forming broad X's with large-petaled flowers at their centers. Above and below are repeated leaping dolphins. Size: 20.5" W x 67.5" H (52.1 cm x 171.4 cm) The panel is mounted on a piece of wood with a slightly smaller footprint.

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 lead coffins. This trend spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire. In the western part - where this panel likely came from, based on the leaf motif - sarcophagi were placed inside a mausoleum against a wall or in a niche. The leaves refer to actual garlands and flowers used to decorate tombs and altars. The dolphins, meanwhile, remind us of a powerful and common 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 lead coffins to be made long before they died - the process of making them required such a long time that they could not be rushed!

Provenance: private Dallas, Texas, USA collection; ex-Civilization Gallery, acquired in 1992

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.

We ship worldwide to most countries and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.

#146670
Condition
...
Unrepaired and unrestored, with a few small tears, mainly at the peripheries, and one small area of loss near the upper right (facing). Edges are curled under in places. Overall in great condition for its age and material, with nice patina and deposits on the surface that are commensurate with age but do not obscure the artwork.

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