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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1905.8
Title
Attic Grave Stele: Woman Dying in Childbirth
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
c. 330 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Attica
Period
Classical period, Late
Culture
Greek
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/219625
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Pentelic marble
Technique
Carved
Dimensions
84.5 cm h x 59.1 cm w x 14 cm d (33 1/4 x 23 1/4 x 5 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: in Greek, very fragmentary,

    [Woman's name in nominative] [father's nomen and demotic in genitive] [ΘΥ]ΓΑΤΗΡ
Provenance
From Giavacchino Ferroni, Rome, 1905. Nani Collection.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Edward W. Forbes
Accession Year
1905
Object Number
1905.8
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums , written 1990
25 Attic

Multi-Figured Grave Stele

The inscription from the architrave probably contained ca. 23 letters according to Sterling Dow. It has been partially reconstructed:

[woman’s name in nominative] [father’s nomen in genitive] [father’s demotic in genitive] [Θϒ] ΓΑTΗΡ

The stele has been considerably recut (J. Frel, note in object file, 13 February 1970). The man is a recut "old nurse," her woman's garb still showing; the back legs of the chair and the dying woman's arms (both?) are also recut.

There are four figures: two are standing--a "bearded man" (originally the "old nurse" and later recut) near the center, and a woman behind him. A dying woman is being supported by a servant at the right. The dying woman, labeled "Daughter" on the architrave above, wears a thin chiton fallen off the left shoulder, and a himation around her lower limbs. The original version of this scene of a woman expiring on a chair or short couch, mourned by one woman, aided by an old nurse in the center, and supported by a servant occurs in other Attic sepulchral monuments, notably a stele in the National Museum, Athens, from Oropos (Reinach, 1909-1912, 11, p. 402, no. 3). An abbreviated version, omitting the person on the extreme left, appears on an Attic marble, fluted lekythos in the Louvre (Reinach, 1909-1912, 11, p. 292, no. 6).

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

George H. Chase, Greek and Roman Sculpture in American Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1924), p. 103, fig. 126

Hubert Phililppart, Collections d'antiquites classiques aux Etats-Unis, Revue de l'Université de Bruxelles, Revue de l'Universite de Bruxelles, Supplement (Brussels, Belgium, 1928), Vol.33 (4), p.3, p. 41

Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), p. 14

Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), The Checklist, p. 150

Cornelius C. Vermeule III and Amy Brauer, Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 41, no. 25

John Bodel and Stephen Tracy, Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A checklist, American Academy in Rome (New York, 1997), p. 48.

Andrew Stewart and Celina Gray, "Confronting the Other: Childbirth, Aging, and Death on an Attic Tombstone at Harvard", ed. Beth Cohen, Brill Academic Publishers (Leiden) (Leiden, 2000), pp. 248-274, fig. 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.6

Jenifer Neils and John Oakley, Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past, Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven, 2003), pp. 186, 222-223, cat. 19

Exhibition History

To Bid Farewell: Images of Death in the Ancient World, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence

Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, 08/23/2003 - 12/14/2003; Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, New York, 01/20/2004 - 04/15/2004; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, 05/21/2004 - 08/01/2004; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 09/14/2004 - 12/16/2004

Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/2021 - 01/02/2022; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/22/2022 - 05/08/2022

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu