Front of a Sarcophagus with the Myth of Endymion

Object Details

Title:

Front of a Sarcophagus with the Myth of Endymion

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Place:

Roman Empire (Place created)

Date:

about 210

Medium:

Blue-gray Marble

Dimensions:

54.3 × 10.2 × 214 cm (21 3/8 × 4 × 84 1/4 in.)

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On this fragment of a Roman sarcophagus, the mythological story of the love of Selene, the moon goddess, for the beautiful young mortal Endymion provides an allegorical message of hope for the deceased. In the center of the scene, Selene, identified by the crescent moon in her hair, alights from her chariot. Accompanied by Erotes, she approaches the sleeping Endymion. Hypnos, the god of sleep, stands behind Endymion, holding a branch of poppies and pouring sleeping potion over him; by these means, Endymion sleeps eternally, in order to remain with the immortal goddess. The youth's tranquil sleep parallels the peaceful sleep of death.

At the far right, the artist showed a later moment in the story. Her evening tryst with the sleeping Endymion over, Selene has remounted her chariot and prepares to fly back to the sky. On the left, an elaborate pastoral scene with a shepherd and his flock does not directly enter the story; it merely serves as a setting.

Related Works
Provenance
by 1975 - 1976

Robin Symes, Limited (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1976.

Exhibitions
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Bibliography

"Works of Art on the Market." Connoisseur 189, No. 762 (August 1975), p. 319.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 67.

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. 24, no. V37.

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.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), p. 46.

Koch, Guntram. "Ein Endymionsarkophag in Malibu." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 8 (1980), pp. 129-140, figs. 1-2, 4-7, 11.

Koch, Guntram and Helmut Sichtermann. Roemische Sarkophage (Munich: 1982), p. 145, n. 5.

Jung, H., Zur Vorgeschichte des spatantoninischer Stilwandels, Marburger Winckelmann-Programm, 1984, pp. 59-103, p. 69,70,72, ill. p. 13.

Koch, Guntram, with Karol Wight. Roman Funerary Sculpture: Catalogue of the Collections (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), pp. 32-35, no. 12, ill. With additional bibliography.

Lochin, Catherine. "Hypnos/Somnus." Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae V (1990), p. 601, no. 99.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 27.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 169.

Woodford, Susan. Images of Myths in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge: 2003), p. 64, fig. 39.

Grossman, Janet Burnett. Looking at Greek and Roman Sculpture in Stone (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003), pp. 91, both extensions published, ill.

Balch, David L. Roman Domestic Art and Early House Churches (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), pp. 41, 172, CD 141.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 169.