The J. Paul Getty Museum

Sarcophagus representing a Dionysiac Vintage Festival

Object Details


Sarcophagus representing a Dionysiac Vintage Festival






Roman Empire (Place Created)

Rome, Italy (Place Found)


A.D. 290–300



Object Number:



53.1 × 190 × 23 cm (20 7/8 × 74 13/16 × 9 1/16 in.)

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Object Description

A lively pastoral scene decorates this oval-shaped sarcophagus. It lacks a lid, but is carved on three sides in high relief. Two lions' heads with rings in their mouths flank the central panel depicting a mythological representation of the Vindemia, a rural Roman wine festival. An assortment of Erotes, or putti--chubby, naked infants with and without wings--harvest grapes from vines overhead. At right, they stomp on grapes in a lenos, or large wine pressing trough. The sarcophagus itself imitates the shape of the container with grapes.

This chest is an excellent example of a common type of third century Roman funerary monument. The use of the running drill in carving the lions' manes and the hair of the Erotes stomping grapes, along with the sharply drawn eyebrows and drilled holes in the corners of the eyes and mouth to create a shadowing effect, are also indicative of the style of this period. Elements of symmetry, such as the repeated pose of the three Erotes in the trough, strongly suggest the sculptor used a pattern book, as was common in larger scale workshop production.

This sarcophagus transcends its function as a tomb monument by touching on themes of daily Roman life: festivals, religious beliefs, and sculptural reproduction.

by 1808

Found: Rome, Italy (first recorded in Zoega 1808)

1852 -

Francois de Corcelle, French, 1802 - 1892 (Rome, Italy), recorded as being in the Villa Rondinini, Rome, by Matz and von Duhn 1881-1882.


Private Collection (descendent of de Corcelle) [sold Christie's, London, December 7, 1994, lot 89.]

1994 - 2008

Rainer Zietz Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.


Zoega, G. Handschriftlichen Apparat zu den Bassirilievi. (Copenhagen: Königliche Bibliothek, 1808), 528, no.11.

Matz, Friedrich, and F. von Duhn. Antike Bildwerke in Rom. 3 vols. (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1881-82), volume 2, p.214, no. 2771.

Christie's Fine Antiquities. London, 7 December 1994, 52f, no. 89.

Bielefeld, Doris. Die stadtrömischen Eroten-Sarkophage; Pt. 2: Weinlese- und Ernteszenen [Die antiken Sarkophagreliefs {ASR} V 2,2] (Berlin: Mann, 1997), pp. 34-38, 44, 79, 94, 108, no. 46, pl. 23-25.

Stroszek, Jutta. Löwen-Sarkophage, Sarkophage mit Löwenkopfen, schreitenden Löwen und Löwen-Kampfgruppen [Die antiken Sarkophagreliefs VI,1] (Berlin, 1998), p. 121, no. 136.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 173.

Di Mauro, Alberto. Italy Art LA, educational brochure (Los Angeles: Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, 2012), p. 23.

Laycock, John. William Kent's Ceiling Paintings at Houghton Hall. (King's Lynn, Norfolk: Houghton Arts Foundation, 2021), pp. 88-9, fig. 52.