The J. Paul Getty Museum

Large Sarcophagus with the Muses (Fragmentary Right Half)

Object Details


Large Sarcophagus with the Muses (Fragmentary Right Half)






Roman Empire (Place Created)


mid-3rd century A.D.


Thasian? marble, crystalline white

Object Number:



137 × 224 cm (53 15/16 × 88 3/16 in.)

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Object Description

Fragments of panels from a sarcophagus. Front. A curtain pulled across the background is fastened in several places beneath the projecting border at the top. In the right corner, Melpomene with the mask of tragedy. The mask has a lion skin, representing Herakles, drawn over it. She wears a long-sleeved chiton with a wide belt, and a chlamys over her shoulders. To the left, the celestial globe of Ourania (the muse herself is missing). The globe has three stars and a middle strip bearing a crab. Next to Ourania would have been a seated man; only traces remain today. Continuing leftwards, Euterpe holds the tibiae (pipes) with both hands. She wears a sleeved chiton trimmed with tassels at the hem. A second chiton on her shoulders is tucked under her belt. To her right remains part of a pilaster. Beside her is Thalia, wearing a close-fitting netlike garment with a mantle wrapped around her lower body. A bulla is around her neck and she wears open-toed shoes. In her left hand, she holds a lagobolon concealed by her cloak, and in her right, a comic mask. The figure to the left is Terpsichore. She wears a chiton completely enveloped by a himation, and holds a lyre in her left hand. Her right arms lies across the shoulder of a seated woman (perhaps the deceased) who wears a himation and whose foot rests on a foot-stool. She reaches to touch the strings of Terpsichore's lyre. Right end. In low relief, the upper body of bearded man wearing a mantle. His right arm hangs down, and in his left, he holds a rotulus. There is a small club between his left forearm and body. At the far right, perhaps, remains of a tree. Below lies a bundle of book rolls (indicating a tragic poet?).

by 1967 - 1972

Henri Kamer New York Ltd., sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972.

Magna Grecia: Ancient Art of the Mediterranean (May 16 to June 3, 1967)
  • Henri Kamer New York Ltd. (New York), May 16 to June 3, 1967

Galerie Kamer, New York. Magna Graecia (dealer exh. cat., May-June 1967), no. 29, ill.

Kamer, Henri A. Recent Acquisitions 1967 (New York: Publishers Printing-Admiral Press, 1967), unpaginated, "Magna Grecia", ill.

Galerie Kamer Inc. advertisement. "Magna Grecia: Ancient Art of the Mediterranean. May 16-June 3." The New York Times (May 20, 1967) p. 29, ill.

Canaday, John. "Art: Old Masters Say Good-by for the Bianchini." The New York Times (May 27, 1967), p. 26.

Vermeule, Cornelius, and Norman Neuerberg. Catalogue of the Ancient Art in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1973), pp. 40-41, no. 90, ill.

Fittschen, K. "Der Meleager Sarkophag," Liebighaus Monographie 1 (1975), p. 29, n. 41, item y.

Fredericksen, Burton B., ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum: Greek and Roman Antiquities, Western European Paintings, French Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth Century (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), p. 65.

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. 25, no. V40.

Koch, Guntram. "Ein Sarkophagfragment mit dem Kampf bei den Schiffen in Malibu." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 6/7 (1978-1979), pp. 103-110, p. 110.

Frel, Jiří. Greek Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1981), pp. 98, 117, no. 48.

Vermeule, Cornelius C. Greek and Roman Sculpture in America (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1981), p. 265 f., no. 215.

Koch, Guntram and Helmut Sichtermann. Roemische Sarkophage (Munich: 1982), p. 200.

Koch, Guntram, with Karol Wight. Roman Funerary Sculpture: Catalogue of the Collections (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), pp. 50-57, no. 18, ill.

Koch, Guntram. "Einige fragmente figurengeschmueckter Sarkophage," Archaeologischer Anzeiger 3 (1993), pp. 432-33; figs. 37-39.

Lancha, Janine, and Faedo, Lucia. "Mousa, Mousai/Musae," In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae VII (1994), pp. 1013-1059, p. 1047, no. 197.

Ewald, Björn Christian. Der Philosoph als Leitbild. Ikonographische Untersuchungen an römischen Sarkophagreliefs. Römische Mitteilungen, Ergaenzungsheft 34 (Mainz: P. von Zabern, 1999), 100-1 with n. 568, pp. 103, 104, 106, 107, 173, no. E 5; p. 140, no. A 12; p. 173, no. E 5, pls. 10, 51.3, 54.

Hannestad, Niels. "Workshops, artists and patrons in Roman Britain." In Troels Myrup Kristensen and Birte Poulsen (eds) Ateliers and Artisans in Roman Art and Archaeology. JRA Suppl. 92 (2012), pp. 87-88, fig. 6.

Birk, Stine. Depicting the Dead: Self-Representation and Commemoration on Roman Sarcophagi with Portraits (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2013), 235, no. 157 (dated to 4th c.).