This woman's name is known from the inscription below the portrait which reads: "To the spirits of the dead. To the most saintly Cominia Tyche, his most chaste and loving wife, [from] Lucius Annius Festus. [She] died at the age of twenty-seven years, eleven months, twenty-eight days. Also for himself and for his descendants." This cippus, or grave altar, is known to have been in a house near the Roman forum in the sixteenth century. It entered the collection of Cardinal Francesco Barberini during the seventeenth century. The jug and patera (libation dish) on the monument's sides allude to the common practice in antiquity of pouring liquids as an act of commemoration, in this instance recalling the modern tradition of placing flowers at the graveside.
Apart from the arresting portrait with Cominia's massive hairdo of a late Flavian or early Trajanic style, the funerary altar is remarkable for the details that the inscriptions provides about her age and character, and sense of loss expressed by her husband. In giving her exact age at death in terms of months and days as well as years, it implies that her date of birth had been recorded and was known to her grieving husband.
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Title:Marble funerary altar of Cominia Tyche
Period:Flavian or Trajanic
Date:ca. 90–100 CE
Dimensions:H. 40 in. (101.6 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Philip Hofer, 1938
Inscription: "To the spirits of the dead. To the most saintly Cominia Tyche, his most chaste and loving wife, [from] Lucius Annius Festus. [She] died at the age of twenty-seven years, eleven months, twenty-eight days. Also for himself and for his descendants."
Found in Rome (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI/3, 1886, no. 16054)
By the late 1560s, recorded in the house that formerly belonged to Angelo of Capranica, near the curch of S. Sebastiano in the St. Eustachio area, Rome; from before 1677, collection of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, Rome (according to Joseph Maria Suarez, bishop of Vaison: Suaresius, Vatican, codex 9140 f. 120); in 1882, still in the Barberini Collection, Palazzo Barberini, Rome; [until 1937, with Jandolo, Rome]; [1937, purchased from Jandolo by Joseph Brummer, New York]; [1937-1938, with Joseph Brummer, New York]; 1938, purchased by Philip Hofer from Joseph Brummer; acquired in 1938, gift of Philip Hofer, Esq.
Matz, Friedrich. 1882. Antike Bildwerke in Rom, mit Ausschluss der grösseren Sammlungen, Vol. 3. no. 3912, pp. 187–88
, Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.
Henzen, Wilhelm and Giovanni Battista de Rossi. 1886. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, VI, 3. no. 16054, G. Reimerum.
Altmann, Walter. 1905. Die römischen Grabaltäre der Kaiserzeit. no. 274, p. 213, fig. 171, Berlin: Weidmann.
Snijder, Geerto Aeilko Sebo. 1932. "Antique and Mediaeval Gems on Bookcovers at Utrecht." The Art Bulletin, 14(1): p. 33.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1938. "A Roman Funerary Monument." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 33(4): pp. 103–5, figs. 1–3.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1940. "A Rearrangement of Roman Portraits." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 35(10): p. 201.
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Jucker, Hans and Urs Graf-Verlag. 1961. Das Bildnis im Blätterkelch: Geschichte und Bedeutung einer römischen Porträtform. no. G6, p. 21, pl. 3, Olten.
McCann, Anna Marguerite. 1978. Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 19, fig. 8, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 90, pp. 120–21
, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Boschung, Dietrich. 1987. Antike Grabaltäre aus den Nekropolen Roms. no. 941, p. 75, 113, pl. 13, Bern: Stämpfli.
Kleiner, Diana and Susan B. Matheson. 1996. I Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome p. 199, fig. 149, New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery.
Bodel, John P. and Stephen Tracy. 1997. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA : A Checklist. p. 196, Rome: American Academy in Rome.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 424, pp. 365, 488, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Zanker, Paul. 2016. Roman Portraits: Sculptures in Stone and Bronze in the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 96, pp. 242, 248–49, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Zanker, Paul, Seán Hemingway, Christopher S. Lightfoot, and Joan R. Mertens. 2019. Roman Art : A Guide through the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Collection. no. 131, pp. 270–71, 331, 379–80, fig. 150, New York: Scala Publishers.
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