Architectural panel with a griffin

Roman
Imperial Period
about A.D. 175–200


Place of Manufacture: Italy, Campania

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 305; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 113 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 160.

Dimensions

Height x length: 104 x 139.2 cm (40 15/16 x 54 13/16 in.)

Accession Number

03.747

Medium or Technique

Marble, probably from the from the island of Proconnesus in the Sea of Marmara near Istanbul

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Architectural elements

This relief together with 03.748 presented griffins confronting one another on either side of a central element. The composition would have had sacred and protective connotations and may have formed part of the decoration of a temple. It is also possible that the reliefs embellished a large funerary structure or a secular public building, such as a basilica or market hall.

An eagle-griffin stands with one paw raised and the central element was probably a candelabrum. The griffin’s tail turns into a rich acanthus vine, which sends out a lateral shoot and terminates in a cluster of leaves. The frame consists (from inside out) of an astragal, a row of acanthus leaves with intervening leaf tongues, a Lesbian cymation, and an astragal.

The panel is incomplete at the right end, where it has been cut off vertically. The outer, rectangular frame is somewhat damaged. It originally would have been paired with 03.748.

Provenance

By 1903: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: From Torre Annunziata. Bought in Sorrento [with 03.748]; a letter from Warren, dated January 18, 1928, adds that he was told the relief with griffins had been on the wall of the cathedral of Sorrento and had been taken down when a new front was put up, the relief then being in private possession for some time); purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren, March 24, 1903

Credit Line

Francis Bartlett Donation of 1900