About this object

Large rectangular ash chest of C. Munius Serenus. It has thick walls and is decorated on all three sides, the back is undecorated and the cavity is roughly worked and the inner ege of the tip is raised to hold a lid although there are no clamp holes. The inscription on the panel is:
The translation is: sacred to the Shades of Caius Munius Serenus. The insciption is well positioned in the field and the letters are even and distinctly formed. The form of the inscription with the sacrum at the end is unusual.
The front is decoated in two zones of decoration and ornate mouldings. The upper frieze has a central bucranium and corner rams' head supporting two fruit and flower garlands slung between them. The bucranium has a daisy chain around its brow and the usual fillets. The spaces above the garlands are empty and the ribbons (taeniae) attached to the animals' horns and fluttering onto the upper mouldings. Between the two panels at the front there is a plain fascia moulding. The main field is also framed by a plain fascia and an elaborate leaf moulding which is interrupted along the top edge by the top of the inscription panel. The insciption also has its own frame with a plain fascia and a cyma. Flanking the inscription are two winged youths standing on their legs crossed, leaning as if asleep on reversed torches. Behind the inscription panel there is an acanthus design with scrolls enclossing rosettes in the centre. The mouldings on the base of the chest include a deep leaf cyma and a guilloche decorated astragal, the de decorative motifs only on the front and the front portion of the sides, the remainder of the mouldings are undecorated. The upper mouldings also have an elaborate decoration of a leaf cyma, a bead astragal and a tongue design. The main fields on the sides are worked smooth with a jug at the cetnre of the left side and a patera on the right.
Although the decoration encompassed many classical designs, the overall design and the style are unlikely to be genuinely Roman. The style is Neo-Classical (in particular the bodies of the winged youths, the taeniae fluttering over the moulding and the flower wreath on the brow of the ox-skull). Although the ash chest was probably not made to be taken as a Roman, Blundell assumed it to be such. Blundell identified the winged youths as Dioscouri but they in Roman funerary sculpture the youths leaning on torches would be cupids or genii.
wo males leaning on staffs. Bucranium and garlands. Substantial restoration.
The chest was bought at the sale of Lord Menhip's collection at Twickenham in 1802. It was not included in the Engravings and Blundell may had taken it to be Roman.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    18th Century AD - 19th century AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: London: Richmond upon Thames: Twickenham
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    460 mm x 455 mm x 320 mm
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); 1st Baron Mendip ( 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


  • Sale of the effects of 1st Baron Mendip

    Start date: 1802-05-18
    End date: 1802-05-18
    Description: Sale of the effects of Wellbore Ellis, 1st Baron Mendip, held at Christie's in London.


Previous owners

  • Joseph William Weld

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

    Owned from: 1802-05-18
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • 1st Baron Mendip

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1802-05-18
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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