Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 2nd century CE. A striking lid from a marble cinerarium, an urn for ashes as during this time it was common for Romans to cremate their dead (this practice would be replaced by sarcophagi and internment in the next century). The lid is in the shape of a temple roof, with a triangular pediment bearing a detailed relief image of Cupid (Eros) riding a hippocamp above what appear to be waves. Large shell carvings are at the corners, forming fan-shaped outlines around the pediment. A thinly incised, wave-like motif runs around the lower border of the pediment. Size: 11.5" L x 12.75" W x 5.9" H (29.2 cm x 32.4 cm x 15 cm)
Cupid is a common figure on Roman tombs, appearing in groups of cupids or alone, often sleeping, especially on children's graves. Portrayed as he is here, in flight on the back of a mythical animal, he creates a more dynamic memorializing image. The hippocamp is also a common figure on funerary sculpture. Why you ask? The sea was a major feature of Roman life, both connecting its people together and inspiring fear with its deep watery depths and hidden shoals full of unknown creatures. The Romans believed in a vast range of sea monsters who inflicted terror upon those brave enough to venture into the sea. Perhaps here the hippocamp and waves beneath it represent the unknown of the grave.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection, acquired on the Paris, France art market in 2007; ex-private French collection
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 and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Repaired from two pieces. Stabilized area of repair on one side. Small losses from peripheries and the surface is lightly weathered with light deposits, but overall the details are well preserved and the artwork is clear.