Marble cinerary urn

Early Imperial, Julio-Claudian
1st half of 1st century A.D.
Overall: 14 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 16 1/8 in. (36.2 x 54 x 41 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Philodoroi Gifts, 2002
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This Roman cinerary urn is highly unusual in having the spoils of war as its principal theme. Despite the fragmentary nature of the piece, the trophies and piles of weapons and armor that cover the back and sides of the rectilinear box are very striking. In both detail and composition, the panels are representative of high-quality workmanship, suggesting that the work was a special commission. Sadly, much of the front, where the inscription recording the name of the deceased would have been, is missing. The urn is said to have been excavated from a tomb near Anagni, southeast of Rome, in 1899.
    Other marble funerary urns in the Museum’s collection (see 96.9.222a, b; 25.78.29; and 27.122.2a, b; on display in the courtyard) belong to much more common types of Roman funerary art, cinerary urns that either resemble actual receptacles (vases or baskets) or are in the form of altars or miniature buildings. In both iconography and craftsmanship, the present urn foreshadows the elaborate sarcophagi of the Mid-Imperial period.

  • Provenance

    Excavated from a tomb in Anagni, on the grounds of the Villa Magna (on the property of Pietro Balestra) southeast of Rome, in 1899

  • References

    Lovatelli, Ersilia Caetani Contessa. 1900. "Urna marmorea con rappresentanze di trofei." Bullettino della Commissione archeologica comunale di Roma, 28: pp. 242-66, figs. 1-3, pls. 14-15.

    Lovatelli, Ersilia Caetani Contessa. 1901. Attaverso il mondo antico, 4th edn. Rome: Loescher, p. 283.

    Janssen, Andreas Jozef. 1957. Het antieke Tropaion. Brussels: Paleis der Acodemiën, p. 182, fig. 177.

    Charles-Picard, Gilbert. 1957. Les trophées romains. Paris: E. de Boccard, pl. 21.

    Mazzolani, Matilde. 1969. Forma Italia: Anagnia, Regio I, Latium et Campania, Vol. 6. Florence: Olschki, no. 174, p. 124.

    Sinn, Friederike. 1987. Stadtrömische Marmorurnen. Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, no. 94, p. 115, pls. 26e, f.

    Lightfoot, Christopher S. 2003. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2002-2003." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 61(2): p. 8.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 438, pp. 376, 491.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History