Relief with Herakles and Omphale (or a nymph?)

Imperial Period
Mid–late 1st century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 116; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 109 (additional published references).


Overall: 41.6 x 41.9 x 9.2 cm (16 3/8 x 16 1/2 x 3 5/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble (from Carrara in northwest Italy)

Not On View


The Ancient World



Erotic scene of Herakles and Omphale (or a nymph?) having intercourse. Herakles has spread his lion’s skin on the ground, and a curtain closes off the background, evidently a garden. Beyond the curtain appears an urn on an Ionic column of Graeco-Roman form. The hero’s club is propped against the rectangular lower pillar of the herm. The curtain hangs from the gnarled tree at the upper right, and at the upper left it appears to have been held by the woman’s raised right hand. She wears a breast band.

The left edge and much of the upper left quarter of the relief are broken away irregularly, as is the head of the female and her right hand at the edge of the curtain. Most of the face of Priapos, on the rustic herm, is also missing, and there are damages elsewhere. The remainder of the relief was cracked through diagonally, from upper left to lower right. There are root marks on the surfaces. The back has been finished into a smooth plane.

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI247: Isotope ratios - delta13C +1.91 / delta18O -1.70, Attribution - Carrara, Justification - Fine grained marble.


By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to his records: formerly in the Barracco Collection in Rome); 1908: gift of Fiske Warren and Edward Perry Warren to MFA; accessioned 1910

Credit Line

Gift of Fiske Warren and Edward Perry Warren