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A pink stone rectangular monument, carved to show one seated woman and three people around her.

This rectangular monument is made of pink stone, carved to show one seated woman and three people standing around her.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Attic Grave Stele: Woman Dying in Childbirth
Work Type
c. 330 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Attica
Classical period, Late
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Pentelic marble
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


Recorded Ownership History
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
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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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
  • Camran Mani and Cecilia Zhou, ed., A Collection of Perspectives: Ho Family Student Guides at the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2023), pp. 44, 58-59, repr. p. 59

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; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/27/2022 - 01/01/2023
  • Seeing in Art and Medicine, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/02/2023 - 12/30/2023

Verification Level

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