Tomb relief of Petronia Hedone and her son, Lucius Petronius Philemon

Roman
Imperial Period
about A.D. 110–120


Place of Manufacture: Italy, Campania (probably manufactured in)

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 354; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 115 (additional published references).

Dimensions

Height x width x depth at bottom: 56.5 x 49.5 cm x 8.9 (22 1/4 x 19 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

99.348

Medium or Technique

Marble

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

The busts of Hedone and her son Philemon are placed in a shallow, rounded niche with a projecting ledge, her left shoulder in front of his right. She is shown as a middle-aged woman whose dress is fastened above each shoulder by knotted strings. He is depicted as a young boy who wears a tunic with a mantle hanging on his left shoulder.

The relief belongs to the Trajanic or early Hadrianic periods, about A.D. 110 to 120. Sculptural indication of the pupils did not become general until Hadrian’s reign, but there are examples of its use earlier, particularly when tentative and unusual, as here. Hedone’s hair is arranged in something of the fashion of the females of Trajan’s family, as demonstrated by their coins (and the head of Marciana, object 16.286)

On both heads the pupils of the eyes are indicated by small drilled holes set just below the upper lids. The boy’s eyes, better preserved than Hedone’s, are crescent shaped.
The panel below the ledge contains the following inscription:
PETRONIA · HEDONE · FECIT · SIBI
ET · L · PETRONIO · PHILEMONI · FILIO
ET · LIBERTIS · LIBERTABVSQVAE
POSTERISQVAE · EORVM
“Petronia Hedone made (this monument) for herself and for Lucius Petronius Philemon, her son, and for her freedmen and freedwomen and their descendants”

The top and back of the slab are smoothed, the sides left slightly rough. A small, round hole, as if for a pipe, is drilled through the middle of the relief. The noses of both heads have been mostly broken away, and there are minor dents to the surfaces. Otherwise the preservation is excellent, with dull yellow coloring. Re-use as a fountain relief must belong to post-classical times.

Provenance

By 1899: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: Bought in Naples 1899.); 1899: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 32,500.00 (this is the total price for MFA 99.338-99.542)

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund