- Museum number
Marble sepulchral chest of Viria Primitiva
- Production date
- 1stC-2ndC (early) (?)
Height: 64.77 centimetres
Width: 45.72 centimetres
Depth: 38.10 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Restored by the Roman sculptor Cavaceppi.
The altar is listed in a 1573 inventory of the antiquities collected by Giovanni Zabrera (also spelled Chiabrera), displayed in the garden of his house opposite Santa Maria in Trevi in Rome. In this year, following Zabrera’s death, his nephews Massimo, Augusto and Gabriele Zabrera leased the house together with the collection to Cardinal Luigi Cornaro (1517-1584), followed by a sale in 1579. The antiquities were dispersed soon after Cornaro’s own death in 1584, passing through a number of notable Roman collections.
Cavaceppi, through whose hands the altar passed in the 18th century, seems to have been unaware of this older collection history.
See Lothar Sickel, “Die römische Antikensammlung der Zabrera alias Chiabrera und das Studium antiker Inschriften im Umkreis des Paolo Manuzio”, Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft , 35 (2008), pp. 113-137, esp. pp.127-128 no. 6 fig. 13.
Cook 2011, nr. 300:
‘A Sepulchral Cippus two feet four inches high, and one foot five inches wide, ornamented with Rams and goats heads, a head of Pan betwixt two Sphinxes and other mystical emblems. Cavaceppi has engraved it in his Raccolta di statue Tom 2 Tav. 6, but has omitted the inscription, which is in a tablet as follows.’
Known from the fifteenth century, the inscription was first copied by Iucundus in the church of S. Maria del Popolo, Rome (CIL VI, 29026).
Bought by Townley from Phillips the auctioneer at the sale of the collection of the Duke of St Albans for £2.2s. or 2 Guineas (Wigan Accounts; cf. TY 14/4/44 and TY 12/4, hall). In his diary for 9 June 1798, Townley wrote: ‘Went to the Duke of St Albans sale of Marbles. bought head of Jupiter, two aras, head of philosopher, a fluted vase with an Inscription & small inscription for 59£’ (TY 1/10). In his record of payment on 11 June (Wigan Accounts), however, one of the ‘aras’ and the small inscription are not specifically mentioned. They may perhaps be included as the ‘&c’ following the ‘fluted vase of Victor’, but I have been unable to identify either object in the collection, and it is possible that Townley decided not to keep them. Two other items that had been brought to England by the Duke of St Albans were purchased by Townley in December 1798 from a Mr Wilson.
Early II AD (Boschung).
* Townley drawings 2010,5006.300, drawn by Chambers 4-7 July 1798 (TY 1/10).
- B. Cavaceppi, Raccolta d’antiche statue, busti, bassirilievi ed altre sculture restaurate da Bartolomeo Cavaceppi scultore romano (Rome, 1768) II, pl. 6;
- Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (1808), VI.42;
- Ancient Marbles of the British Museum, X, pl. 56, fig. 2;
- A. H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, Vol. III (London 1904), 360, no. 2381;
- W. Altmann, Die römischen Grabaltäre der Kaiserzeit (Berlin, 1905), 78, no. 37;
- S. Howard, Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, eighteenth-century restorer (PhD thesis 1958; Chicago, 1980), 264, no. 6;
- D. Boschung, Antike Grabaltäre aus den Nekropolen Roms. Acta Bernensia X (Bern, 1987), 26, 102, no. 740 (bibl.);
- CIL VI, 29026.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- From the collection of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome.
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number