The J. Paul Getty Museum

Grave Naiskos of an Enthroned Woman with an Attendant

Object Details


Grave Naiskos of an Enthroned Woman with an Attendant




East Greek


(Delos?), East Greece (Place Created)


about 100 B.C.



Object Number:



94.6 × 120.7 × 21.6 cm (37 1/4 × 47 1/2 × 8 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

On this funerary relief, a woman reaches out to lift the lid of a shallow box held by an attendant. The deceased woman must have come from a wealthy family. Numerous elements signal her high status, as do the scale and overall quality of the work. She sits on an elaborate, high-backed chair with a turned leg decorated with lions' paws and an arm support in the form of an eagle. She also wears snake bracelets, presumably gold, on her upper and lower arms.

The depiction of the deceased reaching for an item held by an attendant has a long history in Greek funerary art. The small stature of the attendant and her short, cropped hair have been variously interpreted as indications that she is a young relative in mourning, or a servant or enslaved person. The attendant's presence serves to further elevate the status of the deceased, either by representing her familial connections and/or fertility, or by alluding to as someone who could afford a servant or slave.

The shallow box held by the attendant raises several questions. The two holes apparent on its base are evidence of an ancient repair, perhaps in the form of two metal pins intended to hold a now lost marble component in place. The thinness of the box indicates that, like many works of ancient art, this relief was not intended as a photographic depiction of reality, but to convey the wealth and status of the deceased. Although the box appears too shallow to hold anything substantial, we can identify it as a jewelry box by comparison with other funerary reliefs that depict women pulling ribbons or jewelry out of larger, more naturalistic boxes.

The relief has been substantially altered since it was made. Originally, it took the form of a shallow naiskos, or three-sided, shrine-like grave monument, but several elements are missing: an architectural top portion, probably in the form of a pediment; the left side wall; and a lower portion that probably carried an inscription that conventionally would have named the deceased, members of her family, and perhaps her virtues. Technical analysis has revealed the presence of Egyptian blue pigment, not visible to the naked eye on the cushion, on which deceased sits, on the edges of the drapery of both figures, and in the background.

by 1861 - 1863

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd marquess of Lansdowne, 1780 - 1863 (Lansdowne House, London, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1863.

1863 - 1866

Henry Thomas Petty-Fitzmaurice, 4th Marquess of Lansdowne, British, 1816 - 1866, by inheritance to his heirs, 1866.

1866 - 1927

Henry Charles Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th marquess of Lansdowne, 1845 - 1927, by inheritance to his heirs, 1927.

1927 - 1936

Henry William Edmund Petty-Fitzmaurice, 6th marquess of Lansdowne, British, 1872 - 1936 (Bowood House, Wiltshire, England) [offered for sale, The Celebrated Collection of Ancient Marbles: Property of the Most Honourable the Marquess of Lansdowne, Christie's, March 5, 1930, lot 100, bought back into the Lansdowne Collection and transferred to Bowood House, Wiltshire, England.], by inheritance to his heirs, 1936.

1936 - 1944

Charles Hope Petty-Fitzmaurice, 7th Marquess of Lansdowne, British, 1917 - 1944, by inheritance to his heirs, 1944.

1944 - 1972

George John Charles Mercer Nairne Petty-Fitzmaurice, 8th marquess of Lansdowne, 1912 - 1999 (Bowood House, Wiltshire, England) [sold, Egyptian, Western Asiatic, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Ancient Jewellery, Isnik and Islamic Pottery, Sotheby's, London, December 4, 1972, lot 128, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past (August 23, 2003 to December 5, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 14 to December 5, 2004
Pergamon and the Art of the Hellenistic Kingdoms (April 11 to July 17, 2016)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), April 11 to July 17, 2016

Michaelis, Adolf. "Die Privatsammlungen antiker Bildwerke in England." Archaeologische Zeitung 32 (1875), pp. 1-70, 36, no. 22.

Michaelis, Adolf Theodor Friedrich. Ancient Marbles in Great Britain (Cambridge: University Press, 1882), p. 443, no. 26.

Smith, A. H., ed. A Catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Lansdowne House, Based Upon the Work of Adolf Michaelis. With an Appendix Containing Original Documents Relating to the Collection. (London: n.p., 1889), pp. 19-20, no. 26.

Arndt, Paul, and Walther Amelung. Photographische Einzelaufnahmen antiker Sculpturen (Munich: Verlagsanstalt für Kunst und Wissenschaft, 1893-1940), Vol. 11, p. 12.

Christie's, London. March 5, 1930, lot 100.

Vermeule, Cornelius C. "Notes on a New Edition of Michaelis: Ancient Marbles in Great Britain." American Journal of Archaeology 59 (1955), pp. 129-50, 131, Bowood no. 26.

Sotheby's, London. Sale cat. December 4, 1972, lot 128, pl. 26.

Frel, Jiří. Recent Acquisitions. Ancient Art: The J. Paul Getty Museum (Pullman, Washington: 1974), no. 10.

Frel, Jiří. Antiquities in the J. Paul Getty Museum: A Checklist; Sculpture II: Greek Portraits and Varia (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, November 1979), addendum, p. 44, no. 87bis and p. 46 (concordance: wrongly cited in both as 73.AA.159).

Grossman, Janet Burnett. Greek Funerary Sculpture: Catalogue of the Collections at the Getty Villa (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 125-29, cat. no. 46.

Nagle, D. Brendan, and Stanley M. Burstein. Readings in Greek History: Sources and Interpretations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 298, fig. 8.5.

Gkikaki, Mairi. "Die weiblichen Frisuren auf den Münzen und in der Grossplastik der klassischen und hellenistischen Zeit: Typen und Ikonologie." (Rahden: Verlag Marie Leidorf, 2014), pp. 19-20, 59, cat. Ha G5.

Leopardi, Giacomo. "1824: Recanati, or Dialogue between Fashion and Death." Lapham's Quarterly 8, no. 4 (Fall 2015), pp. 101-103, pp. 101-103, 103.

Picón, Carlos A. and Seán Hemingway, eds. Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016), p. 267, no. 210, ill., entry by Jacquelyn Helene Clements.

Angelicoussis, Elizabeth. Reconstructing the Lansdowne Collection of Classical Marbles. 2 vols. (Munich: Hirmer Verlag GmbH, 2017), Vol. 1, pp. 65-66. 75, 112 fn. 130; vol. 2, pp. 390-393, no. 68, figs. 68.1-68.5.

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