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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Stele of a woman and her servant, likely a slave
Work Type
50 BCE-50 CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Attica
Roman Imperial period, Early
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Greek island marble
55 x 29.5 cm (21 5/8 x 11 5/8 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, Gift of Massachusetts Historical Society
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

Stele of a Lady and Her Servant

The surfaces are in good condition.

There are akroteria on the top of the molded pediment. The upper third of the relief is blank, the surface seemingly prepared for an inscription. In the inset frame, a lady is seated to the right, spinning, on a backless seat with a cushion and a footstool. The maid facing her holds a mirror in her raised right hand.

Save that this stele appears to belong to the late Hellenistic period rather than firmly in the era of the Roman Empire, the remarks made in connection with and the parallels adduced for the companion stele from the Department of the Classics Collection, described below, could well apply here.

In addition to examples in Leiden (see below), the stele of Phila from the Cook collection at Richmond is a more elaborate, finished version of what we see here (Reinach, 1909-1912, II, p. 532, no. 3; Strong, 1908, pl. 12). The feeling is that, even when the provenance is not known, these stelai carved under Attic influence come from elsewhere on the mainland or the Greek islands, as a group in the National Museum in Athens, form such diverse places as Rhenea next to Delos, Hermione in the Peloponnesus, or the island of Tenos (Reinach, 1909-1912, II, p. 395, nos. 3, 4, and 7).

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

  • 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. 115, no. 103

Exhibition History

  • Ancient Installation at Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, 09/30/2013 - 01/26/2015
  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, 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