Ash Chest



Rectangular ash chest of Q. Curiatius Zosimus, a Greek name and possibly a freedman although the inscription does not mention it. The inscription D M S Q. CVRIATI ZOSIMI d (IS) M (anibus ) S(acrum) Q (uinti) Curiati/Zosimi: sacred to the shades of Quintus Curiatius Zosimus. The inscription is on a panel at the front and well placed, the letters on the first line are well spaced but the two lines underneath them are not centered and are too close to the left hand side border. The lettering is a bit crude and the size of the letters uneven and almost like in a cursive script than on stone carved inscriptions. Despite these faults the inscription is not deemed to be a modern addition; it was well attested in several 18th century records of inscriptions. The chest was not illlustrated in the Monumenta Matthaeiana but the description of it and the inscription were mentioned in the text. The lid described there was decorated with dolphins, gorgons, and a wreath held up by Nereids. A similar lid was described in the Engravings (fig.11) and in Henry Blundell's Account but is not currently within the rest of Blundell's collections in our museum. The decoration of the chest is on three sides and the back is only roughly worked. The upper edge is not shaped to hold the lid and the clamp holes near the top edge on both sides, three widely spaced along the left side, two on the rights. The holes are irregular in shape but approximately rectangular with traces of lead in them. The decoration is of pilasters on all four corners. There are high bases with a complex profile and fluted shafts and capitals decorated with three rosettes on each visible face. The moulding is running all the way around the top of the chest on the three decorated sides and is of a twisted cord which runs above the capitals of the pilasters and below their bases. In between the capitals and the bases on both the front and the sides there is a leaf and a dart moulding. The leaf design is also on the frame of the inscription panel. The inscription is large and sits above a double door with two leaves of two panels each. The panels have plain mouldings and each contains a ring. The central post is not well defined. On either side of the door there is a tree, thin and long, possibly a cypress but carved with laurel leaves and berries. On the left hand side there is a jug with exaggered handle and relief decoration (perhaps an offering bowl) on the right hand side there is some restoration. The door motif appeared early in the Roman repertoire and remained popular for a long time. In early pieces the door was only one of several architectural motifs and the effect was to make the ash chest look like a building in miniature.Drilling was used in the leaf mouldings and the rosettes, the door and panels are very linear Henry Blundell failed to recognise the door on the chest and described it as a chest of drawers. Purchased from the Villa Mattei Collection by Henry Blundell on his first trip to Italy in 1777.