About this object

Ash chest of Aulus Plautius Gallus to Hermes. It is standing on a four low feet and decorated on its three sides with an incription on the front. The back and the interior cavity are roughtly worked. The top edges are not shaped to hold the lid and the underside of the lid was not shaped to fit the chest, although there are clamp holes at all the four sides of both the lid and the chest. The front and side clasp holes of the chest have been filled in. It was unusual for clamps to be fitted to the front side of the ash chest as they would cut into the inscription.
The inscription is:
D. M
To the Shades, Aulus Platius Gallus to Hermes (his) freedman. He lived 41 years and 4 months.
The simple form of the letters and the style is very similar to many of the inscriptions that appear to be of the 18th century. It is also unusual for the dedicator's name to come before the dedicateee and if Hermes as a freed man he should have had three names ( Aulius Plautius Hermes, if Gallus was his patron).
At the front corners there are rams' heads and a laurel garland hang from their horns across the front. The beginning of another garland is on either side, with short stops to form a tassel hanging down below the rams' heads. A similar tassel appears from the rams' heads at the front corners on the sides. On the front the garland hangs down below the inscription panel and an eagle with wide spread wings is perched on it in the space between the garland and panel. A butterly in low relief is in the spaces below the garland at the lower front end corners. The right side has a patera which is decorated with a rosette and on the left side a jug with a large handle and an elaborately shaped mouth and body. Although rams' heads, garlands and eagles as well as jugs and pateras to the sides were common in Roman funerary sculpture, the neat style of the butterflies and the tassels hanging down from the rams' heads were unusual features and suggest that the chest was restored and redecorated sometime before its sale to Blundell. Evidence of these later additions is also the fact that the ash chest was illustrated in the Monumenta Matthaeiana without the inscription which appeared nowhere in that volume. The inscription may have been created by the time of the disperal of the Mattei collection as a type of restoration. The illustration is the Monumenta Matthaeiana did not include the butterflies.

not antique. Eagle and garland underneath panel. Garlanded ram's head at corners. Disc with rosette on right side. Oenochoe on left. Inscription to Hermes, dedicated by A. Plautius Gallus, is also modern.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    18th Century AD
  • 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
    270 mm x 395 mm x 390 mm
  • Note
    Formerly in the Mattei collection, when the panel did not bear this inscription.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Ciriaco Mattei ( Previous owner); Giuseppe Mattei ( 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

  • Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

    Publisher: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften

  • 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

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

    Davies, G

    Author: Davies, G
    Date: 1990

  • 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

  • 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


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
  • Ciriaco Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1614
    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
Object view = Humanities
Have 11 place tagsPage load time: 467 ms