Galleria Borghese logo
Search results for
No results :(

Hints for your search:

  • Search engine results update instantly as soon as you change your search key.
  • If you have entered more than one word, try to simplify the search by writing only one, later you can add other words to filter the results.
  • Omit words with less than 3 characters, as well as common words like "the", "of", "from", as they will not be included in the search.
  • You don't need to enter accents or capitalization.
  • The search for words, even if partially written, will also include the different variants existing in the database.
  • If your search yields no results, try typing just the first few characters of a word to see if it exists in the database.

Vase with Lid in African Bigio Marble

roman school

This vase has a smooth body and no handles. It is characterised by a sequence of simple, well-defined mouldings. A thin foot supports the ovoid body, which culminates at the top in a low, sunken neck, which in turn rests upon a short fillet. The rim shows typical beak moulding. A fillet also forms the base of the lid, which terminates in a spherical knob.

The vase was probably sculpted in the context of the renovation of the interior spaces of the Villa in the late 18th century. The anonymous sculptor used a variety of African marble known as bigio, which is characterised by white veins and reddish spots on a grey ground.

Object details

Last quarter of 18th century
African bigio marble
cm 32 x 16

Borghese Collection, documented from 1893 (A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Rome 1893, p. 71); purchased by Italian state, 1902.


The vase rests upon a low square plinth. Its round foot is moulded, while its body is ovoid and without handles. A fillet separates the shoulder from the short neck, which culminates in a rim with beak moulding. The lid is characterised by cyma recta moulding on a fillet and a small spherical knob.

Venturi mentioned the object in connection with Room 15, without indicating the era of its execution (1893, p. 71). The vase occupied the same room in 1954, where it was seen by Faldi, who identified it with one of the vases listed in entry no. 127 in section C of the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario. Here, however, the description specifies a vase in oriental alabaster and two small breccia vases with small white marble socles (Faldi 1954, p. 20).

It is most likely that the execution of the vase dates to the late 18th century, in the context of the renovation of the interior spaces of the building commissioned by Marcantonio IV Borghese  and carried out by the architect Antonio Asprucci. To date it has not been possible to identify the artist, who must have formed part of the circle of talented carvers who specialised in working precious marbles, usually of ancient origin, for the wealthy and cultured clientele of the period.

The material used is the variety of African marble called bigio, which shows white veins and reddish spots against a grey ground. A second inventory number (832) is visible on the body of the vase.

Sonja Felici