Doorframe from a temple or a major public building

Roman
Imperial Period
about A.D. 200–280


Place of Manufacture: Italy, Campania

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 304.

Dimensions

Height x width: 366 x 275 cm (144 1/8 x 108 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

38.733

Medium or Technique

Marble, 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

A carved marble doorway decorated with a wreath of oak leaves overlaid with acorns and tied with a ribbon– it is richly ornamented in the Flavian Revival style. The size of this door precludes an association with a house or even a family shrine in the garden of a wealthy Roman’s villa. It must have been used in a public building, and the use of the crown with oak leaves, the Roman imperial corona civica motif, suggests that this door frame came from a temple dedicated to the cult of the imperial family. Such edifices were to be found in nearly every city and major town of the Roman Empire.

The frame of this doorway has three flat, precisely defined fasciae. The jambs are made separately from the lintel. The frieze takes the peculiar shape of a 2/3 of the decorated soffit (underside) of an architrave. On the ends, semicircular projections into the central field reflect the abacus ornaments of capitals that carry an architrave. Since these projections have no structural sense here, they have been ornamented with peony-like flowers. Surrounding three sides of the field is a moulding embellished with an undulating acanthus band with alternating palmettes and shaggy lotus blossoms.

The damage is minimal, and the modern clamps which join the sections have been inserted around the ancient lead and with more lead added in the ancient grooves.

Provenance

December 21, 1932, sold by Ugo Jandolo (dealer), Rome, to Brummer Gallery, New York (stock no. P9064); 1938, sold by Brummer Gallery to the MFA for $3750 [see note]. (Accession Date: April 14, 1938)

NOTE: MFA accession nos. 38.733 and 38.734 were purchased together for this amount. According to correspondence from Joseph Brummer, the door frame was found near Naples or near Pompeii.

Credit Line

Otis Norcross Fund