- Museum number
Marble sepulchral urn decorated with acanthus leaves and a serpent around the rim of the lid.
- Production date
- AD 1 - 160
Diameter: 27.94 centimetres
Height: 19.05 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Said to have been cut from an ancient column capital by the 18th century Roman sculptor Piranesi.
Cook 2011, nr. 305:
‘A Circular funereal Vase, ornamented with foliage. The border under the cover is surrounded with a serpent with its tail in its mouth. It is 22 inches high and 16 inches in diameter, and was brought from Rome by Lord Cawdor’ (1804 Parlour Catalogue, street parlour 12). ‘This article is not worthy of the collection in which it is placed. It was originally the capital of an ancient column, but it owes its present form and appearance to the taste and skill of Piranesi. It was sold as an antique urn by the Manufacturer to Lord Cawdor, from whose hands it passed into those of Mr. Townley. I had this anecdote from Mr. Gresham, who actually saw Piranesi engaged in the fabrication of this forgery’ (Combe, ms note in the interleaved copy of the 1808 Synopsis in the Department of Greece and Rome, Room II.14).
Bought by Townley at the sale of the collection of the first Baron Cawdor (First Day’s Sale, lot 18) for £14.14s. The auction was conducted by Skinner & Dyke on 5-6 June 1800 (TY 19/109).
* Townley drawing 2010,5006.313.
- Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (1808), II.14;
- A. H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, Vol. III (London 1904), 368, no. 2409;
- B. F. Cook, The Townley Marbles (London, 1985), 49-50, fig. 46.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number