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Floor Mosaic with Putti Harvesting Grapes

Roman art

This fragment of an ancient mosaic, inserted into an eighteenth-century tabletop and set in a modern floral frame, depicts two particularly stylised nude, winged putti harvesting grapes.

This rendering, also found in other exemplars, suggests a date for the mosaic of the mid fourth century CE.

Object details

metà IV secolo d.C.; ultimo quarto secolo XVIII
marble tesserae
Height cm 96; depth cm 71; lenght cm 144

Inserted into the top of a table probably made during the redecoration of the villa in the late eighteenth century (González-Palacios 1993, pp. 232–243). Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • Mosaico (sec. XVIII): interventi nel piede dell’Erote a sinistra, in una zona centrale bianca, in parte della tinozza a destra e nella cima dell’albero. Moderne le cornici floreali.
  • 1906 Romeo Lazzari
  • 1989 Consorzio ARKE'


This mosaic fragment was inserted into the top of a small marble table, adapted for this use with large white tesserae and floral frames to the sides. The table was almost certainly made during the Neoclassical redecoration of the residence commissioned by the prince Marcantonio IV and led by the architect Antonio Asprucci (González-Palacios 1993, pp. 232–243).

The ancient part of the mosaic depicts two nude, winged putti harvesting grapes. The one on the left is balancing a basket full of grapes on his head with both hands. The one on the right turns towards him and encourages him with his outstretched right arm, while his left hand holds a smaller basket near the tub. There is a bare tree trunk in the background and, in the foreground, a rock. This subject was especially popular in the Roman world, especially in private contexts, for its evocation of blissful well-being. The stylised rendering of the two figures, with some of the features and parts of the body described by simply placing tesserae next to each other, is also found in a few mosaics with the same subject from the fourth century CE. There is a detailed grape harvest scene on the ceiling of the mausoleum of Santa Costanza in Via Nomentana, while scenes of growing, harvesting and pressing grapes decorate the floors of a few rooms next to the oval portico of the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina.

Giulia Ciccarello

  • Opere in mosaico, intarsi e pietra paesina, catalogo della mostra a cura di S. Staccioli, Roma 1971, pp. 46-47, n.26
  • P. Moreno, Museo e la Galleria Borghese, La collezione archeologica, Roma 1980, p.22.
  • P. Moreno, S. Staccioli, Le collezioni della Galleria Borghese, Milano 1981, p.102.
  • A. González-Palacios, Il gusto dei principi: arte di corte del XVII e del XVIII secolo, Milano 1993.
  • A. González-Palacios, La stanza del Gladiatore, in “Antologia di Belle Arti”, 43-47, 1994, pp. 4-33.
  • K. Werner, Mosaikenaus Rom. Polychrome Mosaikpavimente und Emblemata aus Rom und Umgebung, Würzburg 1994, p.381, K 149.
  • P. Moreno, A. Viacava, I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese: la collezione archeologica di Camillo e Francesco Borghese, Roma 2003, p. 269, n. 260.
  • Scheda di catalogo 12/01008560, P. Moreno 1975; aggiornamento G. Ciccarello 2020.
  • Scheda di catalogo 12/01008688, L. Giordano 1980; aggiornamento S. Barchiesi 2006; P. Berardi 2020.