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Lot: 874
Fragment of sarcophagus with a soldier

Parietal fragment belonging to a sarscophagus carved in marble with the representation in high relief of a battle scene. Rome. 1st-2nd century AD A single block in good condition, without restorations. Faults in the face. The almost complete figure of a soldier appears, in the absence of identification due to the loss of his face, it could well be a specific hero or warrior. Due to the position of the semi-profile body looking to the right, where the scene would take place, it presents an action of raising the shield that it holds in the left hand while the right arm that is preserved would support the sword with its hand, stabbing it into an enemy.

The relief has a flat bottom with a vaulted upper vertex marking the limit of the sarcophagus. Therefore, this fragment would correspond to a scene on the front face of the vat, since the upper smoothing indicates the point where the lid would rest. It can be seen how the craftsmen who carved it had skill in their trade; the perfection in smoothing out the bottom, the anatomical details of the soldier, the thickness of the figure, and it can be seen how the head would be almost completely separated from the bottom of the sarcophagus. It is undoubtedly an example of an important tomb in terms of its technical and artistic level.

This male torso belongs to a complete sculpture that represents a soldier. Although it seems that he only wore the armor, placed directly on the skin, it was normal for him to wear a tunic or "colobium", with short sleeves that reached the knees to then put on the armor. In the larger or life-size sculptures this tunic can be appreciated, in this case, in the absence of the legs, it cannot be ensured that the craftsman sculpted it.

The anatomical breastplate drew the volume of the chest and lower abdomen, decorated by a double ribbon that is tied on the stomach. The lanas or leather straps that usually extend the cuirass are attached directly to it on the legs and arms. It is necessary to emphasize the high quality in the iconographic representation of the armor, a very good sculptural work has been achieved.

Because of the position that has already been commented, he is clearly carrying out an attack action, therefore it leads one to think that this sole soldier would be part of a much more complex scene.

It was customary in Roman culture to bury oneself in coffins, most of which, made of stone, had some type of decoration, be it inscription, geometric or figurative decoration. The most prominent ones become so large that the figures in relief can exceed a meter in height. Many have even been so reduced that they are almost free-standing sculptures.

Roman sarcophagi were used in funerary practices in Ancient Rome. Those made from relief carvings in marble and limestone were characteristic of elite burials in the 2nd-4th century AD. Although mythological scenes have been widely used in different locations, reliefs from sarcophagi have been the most important source. rich in Roman iconography. There are examples in which, in the absence of mythological elements, the occupation or the course of the life of the deceased is represented, such as military scenes among other themes.

Most of them were made in important cities, such as Rome and Athens, which exported them to other cities. In other places the tombstone stela continued to be more common. They were always very expensive elements, therefore they were used by the elite and especially in the relatively few examples made with carving. Most were always relatively simple, with inscriptions or symbols such as garlands.

Provenance: private collection Connecticut, United States. 43 cm. altura

Fragmento de sacófago con militar
43 cm. altura

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