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Funerary Monument with the Deceased Reclining on a Kline

Roman art

This monument is serving as a lid for a, not original, sarcophagus decorated on its long side with a marine thiasos. The sculpture depicts the deceased wearing a toga and reclining on a bed called a kline. The head, which is not original to the figure, portrays an older man. His curly hair, which frames his broad forehead, is similar to that in portraits of Emperor Titus, specifically those of the Erbach type. The hole in the mantle near the right wrist suggests that there was originally a second figure next to this one.

The sculpture is to be considered an independent funerary monument inspired by Etruscan models popular in the Roman world between the first and second centuries CE.

Object details

I secolo d.C.
white marble
height cm 60; width cm 150

Borghese Collection, it was mentioned in the fourth room of the Villa Borghese in 1832 and in its current location in 1841 (Nibby 1832, p. 115; Nibby 1841, p. 922, no. 12). Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, C., p. 51, no. 152. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1996-97 - Liana Persichelli


This monument, which is being used as a lid for a sarcophagus decorated with a marine thiasos, was mentioned for the first time in the Villa Borghese, in the fourth room, by Nibby in 1832 and then in its current location in 1841 (p. 115, no. 8; p. 922, no. 12).

The man, who is stretched out on a mattress, is wearing a long toga that reveals only his feet and forearms. The left leg, which is bent, is resting on the mattress, while the right leg is arranged above the left. The figure’s torso is supported by his left arm, with his left elbow resting on a pillow and his left hand, closed in a fist, near his face. His right arm is stretched out, slightly bent, along his side. The refined drapery closely follows the shape of his body, creating a soft diagonal overfold across his chest. The head, which is not original to the figure, portrays a mature man with fine, lean features. His hair is arranged in ringlets that frame his wide forehead, in a style similar to that found in portraits of Emperor Titus of the Erbach type (Fittischen 1977, pp. 72–74, no. 21, 24).

Wrede assigned the sculpture to a category of independent funerary monuments that were inspired by Etruscan models and especially popular in the Roman world between the Flavian period and the middle of the second century CE (Wrede 1977, p. 423, note 251). The monument therefore probably came to be used as a lid for an unrelated sarcophagus when the rooms were being set up in the Villa. Moreno noted a hole in the mantle near the right wrist, which suggests that a second figure was originally next to this one, probably a woman (Moreno, Viacava 2003, pp. 231–232, no. 220).

The monument shares close similarities with the one of L. Iulius Athenaeus in the Museo Nazionale Romano and dated to the first century CE, dating that also seems likely for the Borghese sculpture (Micheli 1986, pp. 85–86, no. II, 429).

Giulia Ciccarello

  • A. Nibby, Monumenti scelti della Villa Borghese, Roma 1832, p. 115, n. 8.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano della Villa Borghese, Roma 1840, p. 22, n. 12.
  • A. Nibby, Roma nell’anno 1838, Roma 1841, p. 922, n. 12.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano del Palazzo della Villa Borghese, Roma 1854 (1873), I, p. 25, n. 12.
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 42.
  • G. Giusti, The Borghese Gallery and the Villa Umberto I in Rome, Città di Castello, p. 44.
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, (III Ed.) Roma 1954, p. 18.
  • R. Calza, Catalogo del Gabinetto fotografico Nazionale, Galleria Borghese, Collezione degli oggetti antichi, Roma 1957, p. 17, n. 196.
  • H. Wrede, Stadtrömische Monumente, Urnen und Sarkophage des Klinentypus in den beiden ersten Jahrhunderten n.Chr., in “Archäologischer Anzeiger”, 1977, pp. 395-431, in part. p. 423, nota 251. K. Fittschen, Katalog der antiken Skulpturen in Schloss Erbach, in “Archäologische Forschungen, Band”, 3, Berlin 1977.
  • P. Moreno, Museo e Galleria Borghese, La collezione archeologica, Roma 1980, p. 18.
  • P. Moreno, S. Staccioli, Le collezioni della Galleria Borghese, Milano 1981, p. 102, fig a p. 92.
  • H. R. Goette, Studien zu römischen Togadarstellungen, Mainz 1990, p. 81, nota 394d.
  • M. E. Micheli, Monumento funerario a kline di L. Iulius Athenaeus, in Museo Nazionale Romano. Le sculture, 1/6, Roma 1986, pp. 85-86, n. II, 42.
  • P. Cain, Männerbildnisse neronisch-flavischer Zeit, München 1993, p. 238, n. 113.
  • P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 165, n. 17a.
  • P. Moreno, A. Viacava, I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese. La collezione archeologica di Camillo e Francesco Borghese, Roma 2003, pp. 231-232, n. 220.
  • Scheda di catalogo 12/99000010, G. Ciccarello 2020.