The J. Paul Getty Museum

Fragment of a Sarcophagus Lid

Object Details


Fragment of a Sarcophagus Lid






Rome, Lazio, Italy (Place Created)


A.D. 180–190



Object Number:



22 × 85 × 6.8 cm (8 11/16 × 33 7/16 × 2 11/16 in.)

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Object Description

Truncated at both ends, the relief shows young, naked athletes in a variety of activities at the palaestra, or training grounds. Three of them are engaged in a footrace, while another runner carries a shield as he trains for the hoplite race. One figure holds halteres; a form of dumbbells used as exercise equipment for wrestlers. In a scene unique to Roman sarcophagi, the athlete at left is preparing the grounds for the wrestling match with a pick or rake. The inscription in the tabula indicates that Iunia Rufina, daughter of Titus Aelius Maximus, had this sarcophagus made for her father. Known since the 1600s, this fragmentary lid belongs to the small group of so-called vita privata sarcophagi featuring idealized vignettes from the lives of Roman citizens.

by 1699

Maccarani Family (Rome, Italy)

- 1793

William Ponsonby, 2nd earl of Bessborough, 1704 - 1793 (Bessborough House, Roehampton, England)

1793 -

Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd earl of Bessborough, 1758 - 1844 (Bessborough House, Roehampton, England)

after 1848/by 1872

William Lowther, 2nd earl of Lonsdale, English, 1787 - 1872 (Lowther Castle, Cumbria, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1872.

1872 - 1876

Henry Lowther, 3rd Earl of Lonsdale, 1818 - 1876 (Lowther Castle, Cumbria, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1876.

1876 - 1882

St George Henry Lowther, 4th Earl of Lonsdale, 1855 - 1882 (Lowther Castle, Cumbria, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1882.

1882 - 1944

Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale, 1857 - 1944 (Lowther Castle, Cumbria, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1944.

1944 - 1953

Lancelot Edward Lowther, 6th Earl of Lonsdale, 1867 - 1953, by inheritance to his heirs, 1953.

1953 -1969

James Hugh William Lowther, 7th earl of Lonsdale, 1922 - 2006 [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 1, 1969, lot 127, to Royal Athena Galleries.]

1969 - 1971

Royal Athena Galleries, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1971.

Art in Roman Life: From Villa to Grave (September 19, 2003 to October 12, 2005)
  • Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (Cedar Rapids), September 19, 2003 to October 12, 2005

Fabretti, Raphael. Urbinatis Inscriptionum Antiquarum Quae in Aedibus Paternis Asservantur Explicatio et Additamentum. (Rome: Antonio Herculis, 1699), p. 370, no. 142.

d'Orville, Jacques P, and Petrus Burmannus. Sicula: Quibus Siciliae Veteris Rudera, Additis Antiquitatum Tabulis, Illustrantur (Amsterdam: Gerardum Tielenburg, 1764), p. 593, no. 73.

Christie, James. A Disquisition upon Etruscan Vases: Displaying Their Probable Connection with the Shows at Eleusis, and the Chinese Feast of Lanterns, with Explanations of a Few of the Principal Allegories Depicted Upon Them. (London: William Bulmer, and Co., 1806), pp. 38-9, ill.

Christie, James. Disquisitions upon the painted Greek vases, and their probable connection with the shows of the Eleusinian and other mysteries (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, Paternoster-Row, 1825), p. 1, 40, ill.

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (Berlin: 1862-), vol. 6, no. 10735.

Matz, Friedrich."Antikensammlungen in England." Archäologische Zeitung 31 (1874), p. 30.

Michaelis, Adolf Theodor Friedrich. Ancient Marbles in Great Britain (Cambridge: University Press, 1882), p. 494, no. 48.

Sotheby's, London. Sale cat., July 1, 1969, lot no. 127.

Frel, Jiří. Antiquities in the J. Paul Getty Museum: A Checklist; Sculpture II: Greek Portraits and Varia (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, November 1979), p. 23, no. V33.

Bonanno Aravantinou, Margherita. "Un frammento di sarcofago romano con fanciulli atleti nei Musei Capitolini," Bollettino d'arte 15 (1982) 67-84, 71, no. D7.

Koch, Guntram, with Karol Wight. Roman Funerary Sculpture: Catalogue of the Collections (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), pp. 28-29, no. 10, ill. (with additional bibliography).

Amedick, Rita. Die antiken Sarkophagreliefs, 1. Die Sarkophage mit Darstellungen aus dem Menschenleben, 4. Vita privata. Berlin, 1991, p. 133, no. 69; pl. 87,3.

Bodel, John, and Stephen Tracy. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A Checklist (New York: American Academy in Rome, 1997), p. 13.

Dresken-Weiland, Jutta. Sarkophagbestattungen des 4.-6. Jahrhunderts im Westen des römischen Reiches (Rome: Herder, 2003), p. 246, no. 10735.