Funerary Monument of Flavius Agricola

 
Culture
Roman
Creation date
Dynasty
Antonine
Materials
Marble
Dimensions
26 1/2 x 70 x 27 in.
Credit line
Gift of Alan Hartman
Accession number
72.148
Collection
Currently On View In
Leah and Charles Redish Gallery - K312
"Tivoli is my home town, Flavius Agricola my name . . . Friends who read this, do my bidding. Mix the wine, drink deep, wreathed in flowers, and do not refuse to pleasure pretty girls. When death comes, earth and fire devour all."
-epitaph of Flavius Agricola

Sarcophagi became popular in Roman burials in the mid-2nd century A.D., occasionally depicting the deceased reclining on the lid, as if being served on a couch at a dinner party with friends.

Documents reveal that it was discovered in 1623 beneath the Vatican floor when Bernini was erecting his famous baldachin, or altar, and that it entered the collection of Cardinal Barberini. A now lost inscription—mentioned in these documents-- identified the subject of this monument as Flavius Agricola and urged those reading it to live life to the fullest.

Excavated from St. Peter’s Basicilica in Rome in 1626 and acquired by Cardinal Francesco Barberini [1597-1679];{1} by descent to the Barberini heirs, the Sciarra Colonna family, Rome, and on view in the Galleria Sciarra;{2} sold from this collection, possibly to Baron Rothschild, Paris.{3} European art market, about 1939.{4} (Demotte, Inc, New York).{5} (Joseph Brummer, New York); sale at (Parke-Bernet , New York) in 1949.{6} (French & Company, Inc, New York) by 1957.{7} Mr. and Mrs. Alan Hartman; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1972 (72.148).

{1} See Giuseppe Pucci, “L’epitaffio di Flavio Agricola e un disegno della collezione Dal Posso-Albani,” Bollettino della Commissione Archeologica Communale de Roma, vol. 81 (1968-69), pp. 173-177.
{2} The funerary monument appears as no. 3415, in the Sciarra Palace, in Friedrich Matz and Friedrich von Duhn, Antike Bildwerke in Rom, vol. 2, 1881, p. 479.
{3}Pucci notes that this was the speculation of the Italian archaeologist and publicist, Costantino Maes, who was dismayed that Maffeo Sciarra [1850-1925] was selling items abroad. Baron Alphonse Rothschild did buy at least two paintings from the Sciarra collection.
{4} As noted by Cornelius C. Vermeule, “The Dal Pozzo-Albini Drawings of Classical Antiquities in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 56, part 2, 1966, p. 37.
{5}Given as a previous owner in the 1949 Parke-Bernet auction catalogue, cited below.
{6}Parke-Bernet, New York, Classical and Medieval Stone Sculptures…Part III of the Art Collection Belonging to the Estate of the Late Joseph Brummer, 8-9 June, 1949, lot no. 505.
{7}See the advertisement, with an illustration of the sculpture, in the New York Times, 10 November 1957.
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Roman Art

Sarcophagi became popular in Roman burials in the mid-2nd century A.D., occasionally depicting the deceased reclining on the lid, as if being served on a couch at a dinner party with friends.

 

Documents reveal that it was discovered in 1623 beneath the Vatican floor when Bernini was erecting his famous baldachin, or altar, and that it entered the collection of Cardinal Barberini. A now lost inscription—mentioned in these documents-- identified the subject of this monument as Flavius Agricola and urged those reading it to live life to the fullest.