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Gravestone with a Woman and Her Attendant
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Unknown
Greek, about 100 B.C.
Marble
37 1/4 x 47 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.
72.AA.159

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Lounging in a cushioned armchair, a woman reaches out to touch the lid of a shallow chest held by a servant girl on this funerary relief. The depiction of the deceased reaching out for an item held by a servant has a long history in Greek funerary art and probably alludes to the hope of continuing earthly pleasures in the afterlife. The dead woman must have come from a prominent and wealthy family. Numerous elements on the relief signal her high status, as do the scale and overall quality of the work. She wears snake-bracelets, presumably gold, on her upper and lower arms. Her elaborate chair has a turned leg decorated with lions' paws and an eagle arm-support. Also the clothes and hairstyle of the attendant characterize the young girl as a slave.

This relief has been substantially altered over the years. Originally, it took the form of a shallow naiskos, or three-sided grave monument, but three elements have been cut away: an architectural top portion, probably in the form of a pediment; the left side wall; and a lower portion that probably had an inscription. These alterations may have occurred in 1770 when the relief became part of the collection of Lord Lansdowne and was hung over a door in his London house.