Season sarcophagus

Imperial Period
about second half of the 3rd century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 247; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 113 (additional published references).


Height x length: 58 x 229 cm (22 13/16 x 90 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, crystalline, from the Greek islands or western Asia Minor)

Not On View


The Ancient World



The body, the part preserved, has suffered minor damages and considerable weathering, both in antiquity and in the period since rediscovery. A hole has been bored through the lower front center, turning the chest into a fountain basin; the lower areas of the body are badly cracked, doubtless as a result of the New England winters.
On the front appears a Dionysiac allegorical vintage festival in reasonably bold relief: the dominant motifs are two sets of reveling seasonal Genii (from left to right) Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter (on the left); and Winter, Autumn, Summer, and Spring (on the right). In the center stands a figure, clearly the portrait of the deceased, of a middle-aged man wearing a short tunic and a cloak. The Seasons carry baskets of grapes, flutes, thyrsi, shepherd’s staffs, and other rustic paraphernalia. Various animals, birds, and baskets fill the areas below. At each end of the sarcophagus a man drives a plough drawn by bullocks.


By date unknown: A. Dexter Collection; gift of A. Dexter to MFA, 1892

Credit Line

Gift of A. Dexter