Front Panel of a Garland Sarcophagus

Unknownabout A.D. 140–170

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

On a broken section from the front panel of a Roman <span class="text-link" onclick="javascript:link(84, 299, event);">sarcophagus, <span class="text-link" onclick="javascript:link(84, 1106, event);">Cupids hold up garlands of oak leaves while standing on hybrid sea monsters. <span class="text-link" onclick="javascript:link(84, 1050, event);">Nikai, just visible at the broken edges, hold the far ends of the garlands. A <span class="text-link" onclick="javascript:link(84, 486, event);">Medusa head and two tragic masks fill the spaces above the garlands. Elaborate, detailed decoration including flying ribbons, acorns on the garlands, and birds eating clusters of grapes covers the surface of the sarcophagus.

Sarcophagi decorated with garlands were very popular in the Roman world; the majority of surviving Roman sarcophagi are carved in this style. With the shift from cremation to interment that took place in the 100s A.D., the garland <span class="text-link" onclick="javascript:link(84, 603, event);">motif that had decorated funerary altars was adopted for the decoration of sarcophagi.
A workshop of sculptors at Dokimeion in Phrygia in modern Turkey made this sarcophagus. Garland sarcophagi like this one were more elaborate than those made in the city of Rome, but they were very popular and widely exported.


  • Title: Front Panel of a Garland Sarcophagus
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: about A.D. 140–170
  • Location Created: Roman Empire
  • Physical Dimensions: 91.5 × 226 × 18.5 cm (36 × 89 × 7 5/16 in.)
  • Type: Sarcophagus
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Light gray marble (Phrygian marble)
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 72.AA.152
  • Culture: Roman
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Sculpture (Visual Works)

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