Sarcophagus panel: Cupid and Psyche

 
Culture
Roman
Creation date
Materials
proconnesian marble
Dimensions
22 1/2 x 68 x 5 in.
Credit line
Emma Harter Sweetser Fund
Accession number
79.131
Collection
Currently On View

This panel is all that survives of a rectangular marble tomb from the end of the pre-Christian era.  A portrait of the deceased—a man in a toga— is carved in the shield in the center. The shield is being borne aloft by Cupid, on the left, and Psyche, on the right.  An eagle, horn of plenty, and tipped-over basket of fruit are depicted along the base of the panel.

The hairstyle and drapery of the central portrait are from the early 4th century A.D., while the sculptural style of the rest of the sarcophagus dates the tomb to at least a generation earlier.  It was typical to prefabricate a coffin, leave the central shield as a bulging mass of uncarved stone, and then personalize it once purchased by the grieving family. In this case, the coffin may have remained unsold for several years after its manufacture.

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Roman Art

This panel is all that survives of a rectangular marble tomb from the end of the pre-Christian era.  A portrait of the deceased—a man in a toga— is carved in the shield in the center. The shield is being borne aloft by Cupid, on the left, and Psyche, on the right.  An eagle, horn of plenty, and tipped-over basket of fruit are depicted along the base of the panel.

 

The hairstyle and drapery of the central portrait are from the early 4th century A.D., while the sculptural style of the rest of the sarcophagus dates the tomb to at least a generation earlier.  It was typical to prefabricate a coffin, leave the central shield as a bulging mass of uncarved stone, and then personalize it once purchased by the grieving family. In this case, the coffin may have remained unsold for several years after its manufacture.