About this object

Rectangular ash chest of Livia, acquired from the Mattei collection and possibly exported from Lisandroni and d'Este in 1789. The chest is illustrated in the Monumenta Matthaeiana although the drawing does not show the pilasters at the corners. The inscription appears in two different monuments in the Monumenta and this raises suspicions about whether it is ancient. There are a few cracked areas at the left side and the botton of the ash chest and several holes drilled onto the fabric, the interior cavity is stained because it may have been used in the garden or as a fountain setting.
The chest is decorated on all four sides and stands on plain feet which are very worn. The interior cavity is smoothly finished but the top edge was not shaped to hold a lid. The top centre of both sides has rectangular clamp holes. The inscription takes up most of the field:
D M
LIVIAE.P.F
P.LIVIVS. FORTVNATVS
LIBERTAE
To the shades of Livia, daughter of Publicus, Publius Livius Fortunatus to his freedwoman.

The letters are well arranged and elegantly inscribed but the use of the P.F. formula is not common for a freedwoman (she should not be described as filia because the term was used for women who were born free). If the inscription is ancient it could be that the particular way she is described aimed to emphasise that she was born while her mother was a slave and made a freedwoman by her father. The clarity and the evenness of the inscription also raise suspicions about its ancient status.
The inscription has a frame of a plain fascia below with a wave reverse upper moulding and pilasters in low relief, the capitals and bases only just about visible. The same mouldings and pilasters are used on the sides and back of the chest but the fields are left undecorated.

The ash chest is dated in early Imperial times, perhaps Tiberian because of the decoration on all its sides and the low feet.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Religion
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    14 AD - 37 AD
  • 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
    195 mm x 335 mm x 260 mm
  • Note
    Davies (2007) concluded that the inscription was not contemporary of the ash chest and is perhaps modern.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Antonio d'Este ( Previous owner); Ferdinando Lisandroni ( 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:

  • 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: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Ferdinando Lisandroni

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1789
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Antonio d'Este

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1789
    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: 1614
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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