- Museum number
Marble altar dedicated to the Egyptian gods: a kneeling man in Egyptian dress offers two birds to a deity. To either side of him are screens protecting the
cult statue in a shrine and ibises with palm-fronds in their beaks, and sun-disks with serpents over their heads. On the left side of the altar is the bull-god Apis. On the right is a priest reading from a scroll and a member of the cult holding a torch. On the back a youthful personification of Spring crowns himself with roses.
- Production date
- 200 (circa)
Height: 0.60 metres
Width: 36.83 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Cook 2011, nr. 10:
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 Catalouge' (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 2010,5006.231 and 232; and 2010,5006.304 and 305
Late second to early third century AD (Hanfmann).
- Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (1808) VI.21.
- Ancient Marbles of the British Museum, X, pl. 51.
- 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. 78.
- A. H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, Vol. III (London 1904), 290-1 no. 2494.
- George M. A. Hanfmann, The Season Sarcophagus in Dumbarton Oaks Cambridge, Mass. 1951), 162-3 no. 309, fig. 125 (Spring).
- G. J. F. Kater-Sibbes and M. J. Vermaseren, Apis II (Études préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l'Empire Romain 48, Leyden 1975), 14 no. 283 (Bibl.).
- LIMC, II, 179 s.v. Apis, no. 12*.
- LIMC, V, 894 s.v. Kairoi/Tempora anni, no. 31.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number