Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Sarcophagus with Scenes from the Lives of Saint Peter and Christ

Date:
early 300s, with modern restoration
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
26 1/2 × 83 1/2 × 24 3/8 in. (67.3 × 212.1 × 61.9 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Stone
Credit Line:
Gift of Josef and Marsy Mittlemann, 1991
Accession Number:
1991.366
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300
The sarcophagus was carved about the time when Christianity was first recognized as a legal faith within the Roman Empire. The two legendary scenes of the Miracle of Saint Peter Drawing Water from a Rock in His Jail Cell and Saint Peter’s Arrest in Rome, crisply carved in powerful, deep relief at the left, are among the earliest surviving images depicting Peter’s special relationship with Rome. When the sarcophagus was identified in 1879, only the lower legs, with scenes from the life of Christ on the right, survived (see image). Incorrect identification of the figures led to inaccurate restoration of the upper portion of the scenes carved in low relief.

Originally, four scenes from Christ’s life decorated the sarcophagus: the Entry into Jerusalem, the Cure of the Man Born Blind, the Multiplication of the Loaves, and the Raising of Lazarus. In the modern restoration, the Cure of the Man Born Blind was omitted, with the man’s feet used instead for the small, frightened child in the Entry into Jerusalem. Roughly carved in low relief on the ends are two Old Testament scenes foretelling mankind’s salvation by Christ: Three Hebrews in the Fiery Furnace and Adam and Eve after the Fall by the Tree of Knowledge.

The sarcophagus was brought to America to decorate the grounds of Burrwood, an estate on Long Island.
From Villa Felice (formerly Carpegna), Rome ; Walter Jennings, Cold Spring Harbor, NY (1909?–1949); The Brooklyn Home for the Blind, Cold Spring Harbor, NY (1949-198?); Josef and Marsy Mittlemann, Cold Spring Harbor, NY (until 1991)
Garrucci, Raffaele. Storia della Arte Cristiana nei Primi Otto Secoli della Chiesa. Vol. 5. Prato: G. Guasti, 1879. p. 27, fig. 314.

Grousset, René. Étude sur l'histoire des sarcophages chrétiens: Catalogues des sarcophages chrétiens de Rome qui no se trouvent point a point au Musée du Latran. Bibliothèque des écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome, Vol. 42. Paris: Thorin, 1885. no. 94, p. 81.

Wilpert, Joseph. "Beiträge zur christlichen Archäologie (IV)." Römische Quartalschrift für christliche Altertumskunde und für Kirchengeschichte 20 (1906). pp. 1-26.

Becker, Erich. Das Quellwunder des Moses in der altchristlichen Kunst. Zur Kunstgeschichte des Auslandes, Vol. 72. Strassburg: J. H. Ed. Heitz, 1909. no. 124, p. 44.

Stuhlfauth, Georg. Die apokryphen Petrusgeschichten in der altchristlichen Kunst. Berlin and Leipzig: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1925. no. 30, p. 88.

Wilpert, Joseph. I sarcofagi cristiani antichi. Monumenti dell'antichità cristiana, Vol. 1. Rome: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, 1929. p. 311, fig. 195.

Parke-Bernet Galleries. Burrwood: Notable early American portraits, early American and Georgian silver. Vol. 6. New York, October 25–26, 1949. ill. cover.

Sotomayor Muro, Manuel. S. Pedro en la iconografía paleocristiana: Testimonios de la tradición cristiana sobre San Pedro en los monumentos iconográficos anteriores al siglo sexto. Biblioteca teológica granadina, Vol. 5. Granada: Facultad de Teología de Granada, 1962. p. 88, n. 120.

Deichmann, Friedrich Wilhelm, Giuseppe Bovini, and Hugo Brandenburg. Repertorium der christlich-antiken Sarkophage: Volume 1, Rom und Ostia. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1967. pp. 394-395, fig. 151.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1991-1992." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 50, no. 2 (Fall 1992). p. 18.

Evans, Helen. "An Early Christian Sarcophagus from Rome Lost and Found." Metropolitan Museum Journal 28 (1993). pp. 77-84, fig. 1-3, 5, 7-8.

Caron, Beaudoin. "Roman Figure-Engraved Glass in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum Journal 32 (1997). p. 31, fig. 38.

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 26, pp. 22–23.

Evans, Helen C., Melanie Holcomb, and Robert Hallman. "The Arts of Byzantium." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 58, no. 4 (Spring 2001). p. 13.

Evans, Helen C. "The Restored Section of the Petrine Frieze Sarcophagus in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Document of Early Misinterpretations of Christian Iconography." In Akten des Symposiums "Frühchristliche Sarkophage". Vol. 2. Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 2002. pp. 93-97.

Norris, Michael. Medieval Art: A Resource for Educators. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 1, pp. 30-31.



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