Height: 93.000 cm
GR 1805.7-3.218 (Sculpture 2500)
The Townley Vase
Roman, 2nd century
Found at a villa at Monte Cagnolo, near Rome
What men or gods are these? What maidens
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
John Keats, 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' (1819)
This large marble
vase, an adapted form of the Greek
is decorated in high relief with a Bacchic scene, featuring the
rustic deity Pan, and
The vase gets its name from the famous collector Charles Townley (AD 1737-1805). Gavin Hamilton, Charles Townley's agent in Italy, describes finding it in numerous fragments together with other sculptures in a large villa at Monte Cagnolo, near Rome, having been '...thrown promiscuously into one room about ten feet under ground'. The vase as you see it today has been reconstructed '...with great attention, as the work deserves.' The restored vase was purchased by Townley for £250 in 1774.
It was once believed that the vase was one of the main inspirations for the Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) when he wrote the famous 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' (1819), though it is now generally accepted that there were many different influences, not only the vase.
B.F. Cook, The Townley Marbles (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)
A.H Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in -2, vol. 3 (London, British Museum, 1904)