Landscape relief with still-life scene of temple, lobster, murex shell

Imperial Period
1st century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), no. 017; Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 137.


Height x width: 29.5 x 19.5 cm (11 5/8 x 7 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, Greek island

Not On View


The Ancient World



This rectangular marble relief presents what is known as a Roman still life, in this case, it is composed of an unusual assortment of objects placed in and around an architectural structure, seemingly a ruin. An oversized crayfish hangs in the foreground and makes a strong vertical accent. Beside it is a finely detailed basket filled with two astragali, knucklebones of sheep or goat used as gaming pieces, and a murex shell that fits into a gateway in the middle ground. In the background, behind the dilapidated wall hang two plucked birds from a long gnarled tree branch.

The relief is worn on the edges. It is chipped and worn down on the edges; a leg and feelers of the lobster are missing. Otherwise, the condition is excellent. The section of the wall that is broken away was carved in this fashion by the sculptor to suggest a ruin. There is a light brown encrustation over most of the surface.


By date unknown: K. J. Hewett Collection, Kent, England (seen by Peter Sharrer in 1972 and said to have been there for a number of years prior); by 1978: with Peter Sharrer, 39 East 78th Street, New York; purchased by MFA from Peter Sharrer, December 19, 1979

Credit Line

Classical Department Exchange Fund