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