Decorative relief fragment: dramatic mask

Imperial Period

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 302; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 113 (additional published references).


10.5 x 13 cm (4 1/8 x 5 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Stone, low-grade Greek (Asia Minor) marble with crystals

Not On View


The Ancient World



The lower part of the mouth of the mask has been broken away.
The relative thinness of the background indicates that this relief, with its compressed comic mask (set at an angle into the background), formed part of rectangular panel of the type set on pillars in Roman gardens or used as windows in houses. The use of round drill-holes to indicate the “hair” or headcloth of the mask and the similar treatment of the nostrils suggest the panel was carved in the Flavian period or later, perhaps as late as the early Severan period, or about A.D. 200.
Although the break across the lower part of the mouth makes positive judgement difficult, this fragment would seem to represent the stern old father of Greek New Comedy and of the corresponding Latin plays.


By date unknown: Charles C. Perkins Collection; gift of Charles C. Perkins to MFA, 1876

Credit Line

Gift of Charles C. Perkins