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Vatican Museums (Vatican City), Cast of front panel of sarcophagus with griffins
Vatican Museums (Vatican City), Cast of front panel of sarcophagus with griffins
Vatican Museums (Vatican City), Cast of front panel of sarcophagus with griffins

Cast of front panel of sarcophagus with griffins, Late 18th century/early 19th century

From: Vatican Museums (Vatican City)

RA Collection: Art

On free display in The Dorfman Architecture Court

The Royal Academy cast is of the front of the chest of a sarcophagus, or stone coffin, now in the Galleria Lapidaria of the Vatican Museums. The sarcophagus panel shows two griffins who face each other and flank an acanthus calyx. At the corners of the sarcophagus are lit candelabra. The griffin was an animal who would protect the monumnet and the memory of the dead. It was a popular motif on tomb monuments of all types in the Roman period. The candelabra are both ceremonial furniture and references to light in the dark. The sarcophagus is unusual in showiing two griffins on the front panel.

This cast was probably acquired by the Royal Academy in 1830 when it purchased the collection of Sir Thomas Lawrence. The Christie's sales catalogue of the Lawrence collection has several entries for "basso relievo" from the Vatican.

Object details

Title
Cast of front panel of sarcophagus with griffins
From
Date
Late 18th century/early 19th century
Object type
Cast Sculpture
Medium
Plaster cast
Dimensions

630 mm x 2350 mm x 120 mm, Weight: 68 kg

Collection
Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
03/1949
Acquisition
Purchased from Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA in 1830
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