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Sarcophagus Depicting the Birth of Dionysus
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Sarcophagus Depicting the Birth of Dionysus

Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description This sarcophagus, also called the "Childhood Sarcophagus," depicts the birth of the god Dionysus (the Roman Bacchus) in exquisitely detailed high relief. At the left, the newborn god is nursed by a nymph and surrounded by Silenus-his future teacher-and other attendants, including one preparing a basin for the child's first bath. A panther cub, the god's favorite animal, is seated on the ground. To the right, satyrs and maenads, including a drunken old man, celebrate the god's birth. On the lid, satyrs and maenads-followers of the wine god-feast at a banquet. On the sides of the lid, Dionysus's panther drinks from an overturned wine vessel. The coffin is small, as if made for a child rather than for an adult.
Date Description Narrative
1/01/1992Technical Reportx-ray diffraction; other
Provenance [Excavated from the so-called Licinian tomb, via Piave, Rome, 1885]; Clemente Maraini, 1885, by excavation; Don Marcello Massarenti, Rome, by 1894, by purchase [marble no. 5]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902

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150-160 CE (Imperial)
Thasian marble
Accession Number
H: 18 9/16 x W: 59 1/2 x D: 20 1/8 in. (47.2 x 151.1 x 51.1 cm)
  • Italy, Rome (Place of Discovery)
  • Greece, Cape Vathy Quarry (Source of Materials)

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