Grave Stele For Helena

Object Details

Title:

Grave Stele For Helena

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Place:

Roman Empire (Place created)

Date:

150 - 200

Medium:

Marble

Dimensions:

61 × 31.5 × 16 cm (24 × 12 3/8 × 6 5/16 in.)

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A Maltese dog in the architectural setting of a naiskos, or small shrine, decorates this Roman grave relief. The inscription on the relief reads, "To Helena, foster daughter, the incomparable and worthy soul."

Was the Helena commemorated by this sculpture a dog or a girl? The Romans made grave reliefs for animals, but these usually took a different form and their inscriptions specify that they were intended for an animal. On the other hand, funerary monuments for children often show the child with a favorite pet. In this instance, however, the pet is shown alone, which might be more appropriate if Helena was not a high-born Roman. The inscription appears to support this interpretation because the word alumnus, although here translated as "foster daughter," can also mean a slave raised in the house.

Provenance
by 1749

Villa Sinibalda (Rome, Italy)

after 1848/by 1872

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

1872 - 1876

Henry Lowther, third earl of Lonsdale, 1818 - 1876, by inheritance to his heirs, 1876.

1876 - 1882

St George Henry Lowther, fourth earl of Lonsdale, 1855 - 1882, by inheritance to his heirs, 1882.

1882 - 1944

Hugh Cecil Lowther, fifth earl of Lonsdale, 1857 - 1944

1944 - 1953

Lancelot Edward Lowther, sixth earl of Lonsdale, 1867 - 1953, by inheritance to his heirs, 1944.

1953 -1969

James Hugh William Lowther, seventh earl of Lonsdale, 1922-2006 [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 1, 1969, lot 135, to Royal Athena Galleries.]

1969 -1971

Royal Athena Galleries (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1971.

Exhibitions
Selected Works from the Ancient Art Collection of the John Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California, (May 29 to July 10, 1971) (18)
  • Hetzel Union Gallery (State College), May 29 to July 10, 1971
I, Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome (September 6, 1996 to June 15, 1997)
  • Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven), September 6 to December 1, 1996
  • San Antonio Museum of Art (San Antonio), December 22, 1996 to March 2, 1997
  • North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh), April 6 to June 15, 1997
Bibliography

Maffei, Scipione. Museum veronense, hoc est, Antiquarum inscriptionum atque anaglyphorum collectio : cui Taurinensis adiungitur et Vindobonensis : accedunt monumenta id genus plurima nondum vulgata, et ubicumque collecta. Verona: Typis Seminarii, 1749 p. 276.4.

Orelli, Johann C. Inscriptionum Latinarum Selectarum Amplissima Collectio Ad Illustrandam Romanae Antiquitatis, Disciplinam Accommodata Ac Magnarum Collectionum Supplementa Complura Emendationesque Exhibens. (Turin: Orellii, Fuesslini et soc., 1828), Vol. 1, p. 490, no. 2796.

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. (Berlin: 1862-) vol. VI, pt. 3 (Rome), p. 2062, no. 19190.

Sotheby's, London. Sale cat., July 1, 1969. lot no. 135.

Selected Works from the Ancient Art Collection of the John (sic) Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California (exh. cat.). The Pennsylvania State University College of Arts and Architecture, University Park, PA. no. 18.

Vermeule, Cornelius, and Norman Neuerberg. Catalogue of the Ancient Art in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Malibu: 1973. p. 38, no. 84, ill.

Frel, Jirí. Antiquities in the J. Paul Getty Museum. A Checklist. Sculpture II. Greek Portraits and Varia. Malibu: November 1979. p. 28, no. V48.

Boucher, Jean-Paul. "L'epitaphe d'Helene," The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. 10 (1982), pp. 121-122. fig. 1. Wrongly cited as 78.AA.61.

Koch, Guntram. "Zum Grabrelief der Helena," The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 12 (1984), pp. 59-72. fig. 1.

Koch, Guntram, with Karol Wight. Roman Funerary Sculpture. Catalogue of the Collections. Malibu: 1988. pp. 85-87, no. 30, ill.

Dixon, Suzanne. The Roman Family. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. pl. 21. Without accession no.

Kleiner, Diana E. E., and Susan B. Matheson. I Claudia. Women in Ancient Rome (ex. cat.). p. 210, no. 167, ill.

Bodel, John, and Stephen Tracy. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A Checklist. New York: American Academy in Rome, 1997. p. 14.

von den Driesch, Angela and Joris Peters. Geschicte der Tiermedizin (Stuttgart, Schattauer, 2003) abb. 1-67.

Slater, Niall W. "Mourning Helena: Emotion and Identification in a Roman Grave Stela (71.AA.271)." Getty Research Journal 2 (2010), pp. 139-146

Mackinnon, Michael. "Pack Animals, Pets, Pests, and Other Non-Human Beings." In The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rome. Paul Erdkamp, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013) p. 116 - 117, fig. 7.2.

Harden, Alastair. "Animals in Classical Art." In The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life. Gordon L. Campbell, ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) p. 46.

Education Resources

Education Resource

Subjects

Grades

Format

Low-Relief Sculpture

Lesson in which students refer to a Roman gravestone, create a low-relief gravestone for a pet using foam carving medium, and write a poetic epitaph.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts

6-8

Two-Part Lesson