About this object

Lid of ash chest of C. Iulius Hirmaiscus. Although it is associated with this 59.148.312 it was not represented in the illustrations either in the Monumenta Matthaeiana or Blundell's Engravings. The lid was mentioned in Blundell's Account as under no 381 the ash chest of the Flavius Eutyches. The lid has the shape of a roof with acroteria at all four corners and a pediment at the front and the back. The upper sediment is filled with the doe suckling Telephus. The doe stands facing to the right but turns her head to lick the knee of the child below her. The child has his back to the viewer and his right hand is raised to her flank with his left hand he props himself up.
Telephus was the son of Hercules and Auge, the daughter of the King of Tegea. Telesphus was left on a mountain to die because an oracle had predicted that he would kill his uncles. A doe looked after him and Telesphus survived. The scene is similar to the one of Remus and Romulus and the goat Amaltheia suckling Zeus. The exact meaning of the scene in a funerary context is uncertain but mother's nurturing love may have been an appropriate theme for the ash chest of T. Flavius Eutyches, dedicated by his mother to her young son. However it is uncertain that the lid is for that chest.

A bucranium (ox's head) is on each of the acroteria half on the front half on the side. Ribbons (taeiniae) decorate the skulls and fill the space with their curves. The outlne of the pediment is with simple mouldings, only the one below the front is a complex moulding running to the width of the lower edge of the lid. The back of the lid was roughly worked and all the undecorated surfaces were smoothened. The underside was not shaped in any way to fit the ash chest but there were two clamp holes now filled with plaster on the right side.
The representation of the doe and the child are in high relief with good anatomical details. The eye of the doe has some detail, the eye and ear of the child were made with a drill and some attempt was made to distinguish his fingers.
The boucrania are similar but the right one looks more ancient than the left. They are rounded with a bulbous top and eye sockets that have a drill hole in the centre and details drilled channels for the nostrils.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    1st Century AD late - Neronian
  • Materials
  • 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
  • Measurements
    155 mm x 320 mm x 300 mm
  • Note
    Davies commented that the use of bucrania in acroteria was unusual but she considered the lid to be ancient despite the unknown provenance of the lid and its extensive restorations considered it to be ancient with a good quality decoration. Similar to the lid displayed at top of the ash chest of Manlia Parata in the Galleria Doria and could be from the same workshop. The whole of the left side has been restored and joined to the central part, some smaller pieces were patched to the right, and the apex of the pediment to the front and at the lower corners of the front. The top ridge was also flattened. The edges and corners are chipped and a crack or flaw runs across the doe's cheeks. There is hole at the back behind the acroterion on the left but the purpose of it is unknown.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Michaelis, A

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

  • 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


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
Object view = Humanities
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