Sarcophagus fragment: forepart of a griffin

about A.D. 225–275

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 272.


24 x 23 cm (9 7/16 x 9 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Stone, marble from western Asia Minor

Not On View


The Ancient World


Coffins and sarcophagi

The relatively thin slab is broken on the right and bottom edges. It appears to have been cut fairly evenly on the top, above the fillet molding, and equally possibly beyond the similar vertical enframement at the left, into which the animal’s forepaws (and the waves) protrude. The surfaces are in good condition, with a yellowish gray patina. The back is fully finished.
This appears to be the left front, near the corner, of the lid of a large sarcophagus with a sea griffin leaping through the waves. The animal’s mane has been turned into acanthus foliage, between neck and fishy body. The compositional inspirations for such designs, and these details, are the sarcophagi with griffins as the principal motifs of their fronts and ends; they are not uncommon and belong to the late Hadrianic, the Antoinine, and the Severan periods of the Roman Empire.
The outlining of the animal with the running drill and the use of drill points to express head and drapery indicated that this framgment belongs to a sarcophagus dating probably in the second and third quarters of the third century. A.D.


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

Credit Line

Gift of Charles C. Perkins