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Unidentified Roman sculptor, Cast of front panel of Roman sarcophagus of the Muses

Cast of front panel of Roman sarcophagus of the Muses, late 18th century

After Unidentified Roman sculptor

RA Collection: Art

The cast is of the front panel of a sarcophagus that was once in the Capitoline Museum. The original object, of c. 160 AD, was found in a tomb chamber on the Via Ostiense just outside of Rome in the early 1700s. It was acquired by Capitoline Museum in 1733 but was given to France by the terms of the Treaty of Tolentino in 1797 and entered the Louvre collection in 1801 where it remains today (inv. Ma 475 H: 61.5, L: 205 cm).

The panel shows the nine muses, companions of Apollo, with their attributes. They are from left to right: Calliope, the muse of epic poetry with a scroll; Thalia, muse of comedy with a comic mask; Terpsichore, muse of dance; Euterpe, muse of lyric poetry with a double flute; Polyhymnia, muse of sacred songs and hymns, leaning on a rock; Clio, muse of History with a writing-tablet; Erato, muse of Lyric poetry wtih a cithara; Urania, muse of astronomy, with a globe at her feet; and Melpomene, muse of Tragedy with a tragic mask.

The Royal Academy acquired this cast from the sale of George Romney's possessions in 1801. Twenty-nine years later, in 1830, the Academy acquired another copy of the same cast from the collection of Thomas Lawrence.

Object details

Cast of front panel of Roman sarcophagus of the Muses
Original in the Louvre, Paris
late 18th century
Object type
Cast Sculpture
Plaster cast

670 mm x 2120 mm x 110 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Purchased from John Flaxman RA in 1801 and Thomas Banks RA in 1801
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