Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Part of a Sarcophagus Lid with the Separation of the Sheep from the Goats

Date:
late 3rd–early 4th century (?)
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
16 × 93 1/2 × 2 5/8 in., 228 lb. (40.6 × 237.5 × 6.6 cm, 103.4 kg)
Classification:
Sculpture-Stone
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1924
Accession Number:
24.240
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300
This front of a sarcophagus lid translates a biblical verse into an image. Christ, bearded and wearing a toga, sits in the center with a bundle of scrolls against a backdrop of large trees framed by stylized palmettes. The scrolls and costume present Christ as a contemporary philosopher. With a warm gaze and gentle pat, he welcomes eight sheep to his right while he rejects the five goats to his left with his raised hand. The composition evokes the Gospel parable of Christ during the Last Judgment "separat[ing] people…as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" (Matt. 25:31-46). The combination of a pastoral setting with a seated philosopher was innovative at this time. The workshop that carved this image could employ identical figures arranged differently for the decoration of non-Christian sarcophagi.
Count Grégoire Stroganoff (d. 1910), Rome; [ Giorgio Sangiorgi, Rome (sold 1924)]; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (sold 1924)]
Muñoz, Antonio. Pièces de Choix de la Collection du comte Grégoire Stroganoff à Rome: Volume 2, Moyen-Âge – Renaissance – Époque Moderne. Rome: Imprimerie de l'Unione Editrice, 1912. p. 112, pl. LXXXIV, figs. 2–3.

Forsyth, William H. A Brief Guide to the Mediaeval Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1947. p. 3.

Rorimer, James J., and William Holmes Forsyth. "The Medieval Galleries." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 12, no. 6 (February 1954). p. 121.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Guide to the Collections: Medieval Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1962. fig. 1.

Beeson, Nora B., ed. Guide to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. no. 2, p. 210.

Knudsen-Morgan, Sandra. "The Age of Spirituality." Apollo 107, no. 191 (January 1978). p. 18, fig. 16.

Weitzmann, Kurt, ed. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. no. 501, p. 558.

Brenk, Beat. "The Imperial Heritage of Early Christian Art." In Age of Spirituality: A Symposium, edited by Kurt Weitzmann. New York and Princeton, New Jersey: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980. p. 45, fig. 11.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983. no. 1, pp. 338-39.

Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 10, pp. 24-25.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 1, pp. 372-73.



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