About this object

Ash chest with the inscription
D.M.
CORNELIA.L.LIB
STAPHYLE
BEN
To the Shades. Cornelia Staphyle, freedwoman of Lucius, well deserving.
The chest was of Cornelia Staphyle. It is possible that the ash chest did not have an inscription in antiquity or that the original one was erased, because in Monumenta Matthaeiana it has a different inscription (to Fabia Felicula). Michaelis doubted the authenticity of the inscription and it was also thought to be a copy taken from a vase in the Vatican. The spacing of the letters does not suggest that the inscription was incomplete but that it was added later to the chest. The vase from the Vatican it was copied from simply read CORNELIA LL STAPHYLE. The form of the letters is similar to other inscription from the Blundell's collection of ash chests that appear to be modern like the ash chest of Rutilia Romana 59.148.333, Oppia Thisbe and Calidia Ursilia.
The decoration is mainly on the front with the sides smoothened and the back left roughtly worked. The small rectangular clamp near the top centre of the sides and the top edge of the chest are shaped to hold a lid. The cavity is large. The upper front corners of the chest have ox skulls (bucrania), with only the front of their faces carved. Ivy branches hang from their horns and they cross the lower centre front underneath the inscription panel, tied to a ribbon with a bow to the front. Small garden birds are to the lower corners, the birds face the corners and peck at ivy berries. Near the side edges at the front hang ribbons ( taeniae). On top and bottom of the front of the ash chest there is a fascia moulding. The inscription panel is framed with the usual undecorated cyma but the sides of the ash chest are undecorated.
Motifs such as bucrania, ivy brances and small birds were commonly used on ash chests from the Hellenistic times and also decorated altars and allunded to sacrifices. Ivy was particular popular for ash chests as evergreens defy the usual cycle of life and death. Ivy was also associated with Dionysus but the motifs of this ash chests are not particularly Dionysiac. The birds do not have a symbolic significance but enhance the impression of the idyllic landscape and lush surroundings. Blundell in his Account saw a rose budding at the top of the ivy spray and explained it as symbolic 'of the the dissolution and regeneration, to shew the perpetual rotation of matter'.
The relief is shallow but the carving is detailed and careful with little use of the drill. The ivy leafs are well modelled, the bunches of the berries are large and abundant and symmetrically arranged at the central axis of the front.
The motif of the crossed ivy brances was used for most of the 1st century AD and bucrania were common at the earlier part of the 1st century AD and less later on. The style of the ivy brances because of the limited use of the drill but the details carving and uncluttered effect is closest to the the pieces of the Claudian or early Flavian period.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Religion
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    41 - 68 (Claudian - Neronian)
  • Materials
    Marble
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
    1789
  • Measurements
    170 mm x 380 mm x 255 mm
  • Note
    Davies (2007) trans.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Ciriaco Mattei ( Previous owner); Giuseppe Mattei ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related

Publications

  • Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Michaelis, A

    Author: Michaelis, A
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Date: 1882
    Description:

  • Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

    Author:
    Publisher: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften
    Date:
    Description:

  • Enhancing by inscription in the late eighteenth century: the case of Henry Blundell's Ash Chests

    Davies, G

    Author: Davies, G
    Publisher: Institute of Classical Studies
    Date: 2000
    Description:

  • Insciptions as texts and objects: approaches to epigraphic publication in the nineteenth century

    Davies, Glenys

    Author: Davies, Glenys
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Date: 2014-11
    Description:

  • Roman Cineraria in 'Monumenta Mattheiana' and the Collection of Henry Blundell at Ince

    Davies, G

    Author: Davies, G
    Publisher:
    Date: 1990
    Description:

  • The Ince Blundell Collection of Classical Sculpture. Volume 2 - The Ash Chests and other Funerary Reliefs

    Davies, Glenys

    Author: Davies, Glenys
    Publisher: Verlag Philipp von Zabern
    Date: 2007
    Description:

  • The Inscriptions on the Ash Chests of the Ince Blundell Hall Collection: Ancient and Modern

    Davies, Glenys

    Author: Davies, Glenys
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Date: 2000
    Description:

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Joseph William Col Sir Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: 1789
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Giuseppe Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Ciriaco Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
Have 11 place tagsPage load time: 93 ms