- Museum number
Marble altar dedicated to the Egyptian gods: a kneeling figure in Egyptian dress holds out an offering-table; to the left is a candelabrum with a sphinx emerging from it; to the right is a vase set on a pedestal with a sun-disk and serpent above it. On the left side of the altar is the bull-god Apis. On the right the god Horus stands in a cart drawn by hippopotami. On the back a youthful personification of Summer holds ears of corn and a sickle, with a basket of cut corn at his side.
- Production date
- 200 (circa)
Height: 59.69 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Cook 2011, nr. 9:
A pair of altars (1805,0703.212 and 213) ‘ornamented on the four sides with Egyptian figures, composed in the Roman style of art’ (TY 12/3). Each has on the front a kneeling figure in Egyptian dress, and on the left side the bull Apis. 1805,0703.212 has Harpocrates and two hippopotami on the right side, and a personification of Summer on the back, while 1805,0703.213 has two figures (conjectured as priests of Isis) on the right side, and a personification of Spring on the back.
Formerly in the Odescalchi Palace, Rome.
Bought from Piranesi on 5 May 1768 (TY 8/2). According to TY 10/1-2 and 'Union Catalogue' (fo. 4r), Townley paid 50 Scudi for the pair, and this seems to be confirmed by the combined price in TY 8/2, but in TY 10/3 (fo. 4) and TY 10/5 the price is quoted as 32 Scudi for the pair, rendered in TY 10/7 as £5 each. The higher figure seems to be the correct one.
* Townley drawings 2010,5006.233 and 234; and 2010,5006.306 and 307.
Late second to early third century AD (Hanfmann).
- Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (1808), VI.25.
- Ancient Marbles of the British Museum, X, pl. 52.
- A Guide to the Graeco-Roman Sculptures in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities (Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum) (2 vols., London 1874 [2nd ed. 1879] and 1876), II, no. 84.
- A. H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, Vol. III (London 1904), 391-2, no. 2495.
- George M. A. Hanfmann, The Season Sarcophagus in Dumbarton Oaks Cambridge, Mass. 1951), 162-3, no. 309, fig. 126 (Summer).
- G. J. F. Kater-Sibbes and M. J. Vermaseren, Apis II (Études préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l'Empire Romain 48, Leyden 1975), 14-15, no. 284 (Bibl.).
- LIMC, IV, 432 s.v. Harpokrates, no. 232*.
- R. Merkelbach, Isis regina – Zeus Sarapis (Stuttgart and Leipzig 1995), 602, figs. 131-2.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number