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This is Lot Number 1

After the Antique: A Marble Sarcophagus

Estimated Price:
£5,000 - £8,000

Hammer Price:

Italian, 18th century
50cm.; 20ins high by 208cm.; 82ins long by 56cm.; 22ins deep

The central panel inscribed with five lines of Latin inscription: D(is) M(anibus)/ C(aio) Tutilio Rufino/ (....) venatori/ T(itus) Claudius Secundus/ amico b(ene) m(erenti) p(osuit) (|To the shades of the deceased. For Gaius Tutilius Rufinus the hunter. Titus Claudius Secundus built this for his well-deserving friend|).

Provenance: William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough (1704-93), Parkstead House, Roehampton, Middlesex by descent to his son Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough (1758-1844).
House Sale of Ashby Folville Manor, Leicestershire by Heathcote Ball and Co Thursday, 15 March 1984, lot 117 and thence by descent.

Henry Blundell, An account of the statues, busts, bass-relieves, cinerary urns, and other ancient marbles and paintings at Ince. Collected by H.B., Liverpool, 1803, p. 184, no. DXXXIX (|It appears by an inscription on the body of the Sarcophagus, which yet remains at Roehampton, that this Sarcophagus contained the remains of some great man, noted for hunting|)
Henry Blundell, Engravings and etchings of sepulchral monuments, cinerary urns, gems, bronzes, prints, Greek inscriptions, fragments, &c., in the collection of Henry Blundell, Esq. at Ince, vol. II, 1839, cat. 539, pl. 126 (|At Roeheampton is said to remain, the sarcophagus from which it was taken, with an inscription below: [transcription follows]|)
Adolf Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, Cambridge, 1882, p. 402
W. Henzen and G. De Rossi, Inscriptiones urbis Romae latinae, vol. VI, 5: Inscriptiones falsas urbi Romae attributas comprehendens, Berlin, 1885, no. 3516
Elizabeth Angelicoussis, |Sarcophagi from Ince Blundell,| Mitteilungen des Deutschen Arch�ologischen Instituts. R�mische Abteilung, vol. 111, 2004, p. 276

The present lot once supported an ancient lid carved in front with a hunting scene flanked by two theatre masks. See engraving. The lid was offered as lot 7 in the 1801 auction of the Bessborough Collection, where it was purchased by Henry Blundell for his collection at Ince. It is now in the Merseyside County Museum in Liverpool (B. Ashmole, A catalogue of the ancient marbles at Ince Blundel Hall, New York, 1929, p. 111, no. 307, pl. 48; B. Andreae, Sarkophage mit Darstellungen aus dem Menschenleben. Die r�mischen Jagdsarkophage [Die antiken Sarkophagreliefs, vol. I, 2], Berlin, 1980, no. 37). The sarcophagus itself was not included in the sale and remained at Roehampton and was subsequently moved to Ashby Folville Manor, Leicestershire where it was included in a contents sale by Heathcote Ball & Co. on 15th March 1984 lot 117 where it was erroneously catalogued with a Stowe provenance. An original catalogue of this sale is included with the lot.

The sarcophagus was probably carved to order in the 18th Century, as a means to support and enhance what seems to have been generally recognized at the time as an unusually finely decorated lid (see Blundell, op. cit, 1803: |the best piece of sculpture known to exist on that kind of monument. At the sale it was much recommended by the virtuosi, and had many competitors for it|).

The funerary inscription is also an 18th Century creation. It refers to the deceased as a hunter (venator), thus establishing a connection between the modern sarcophagus and the ancient lid. The function of the inscription, just like that of the sarcophagus on which it was engraved, was |to enhance the marble [lid]~s antiquarian and monetary value| (Angelicoussis, op. cit., 2004).

This is Lot Number 1

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