Sarcophagus Fragment with Eros, Three Nereids, a Triton, a Ichthyocentaur, and a Hippocamp

Unidentified Roman, Early Antonine maker

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about 180-190

Marble

Overall: 18 1/2 × 47 1/4 × 4 in. (47 × 120 × 10.2 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Hood Museum of Art Acquisitions Fund

S.977.21

Geography

Place Made: Italy, Europe

Period

1-500

Object Name

Sculpture

Research Area

Classical World

On view

Inscriptions

Inscribed, lower center: NHRE[I]DES

Label

The sarcophagus fragment below features a sculpted arrangement of mythological water-beings. At the far left, a human-bodied, horse-legged, fished-tailed ichthyocentaur kisses a nereid, or water nymph. On the far right, a triton, or merman, holds the arm of a second nereid, the latter of whom leads a sea horse into paradise.

In the painting above, Elihu Vedder shows a fisherman with a siren (or mermaid) whom he has caught at sea. Vedder lived and worked in Italy at the time he painted this work, and antiquities featuring mythological scenes, such as the sarcophagus below, influenced his choice of subject matter. Both Vedder and the once-known maker of this sarcophagus meditated on similar themes, prompting viewers then and now to consider the connections between water, life, and the unknown.

Written by Nathan Savo, Class of 1954 Intern

From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

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The sarcophagus fragment below features a sculpted arrangement of mythological water-beings. At the far left, a human-bodied, horse-legged, fished-tailed ichthyocentaur kisses a nereid, or water nymph. On the far right, a triton, or merman, holds the arm of a second nereid, the latter of whom leads a sea horse into paradise.

In the painting above, Elihu Vedder shows a fisherman with a siren (or mermaid) whom he has caught at sea. Vedder lived and worked in Italy at the time he painted this work, and antiquities featuring mythological scenes, such as the sarcophagus below, influenced his choice of subject matter. Both Vedder and the once-known maker of this sarcophagus meditated on similar themes, prompting viewers then and now to consider the connections between water, life, and the unknown.

From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

ANTH 57, Origins of Inequality, Alan Covey, Winter 2013

CLST 7, The Idea of Rome, Margaret Williamson, Spring 2012

ANTH 57, Origins of Inequality, Alan Covey, Winter 2013

ARTH 17, Ancient Art and Myth, Steven Kangas, Winter 2013

ARTH 25, Roman Art, Kathleen Corrigan, Winter 2012

CLST 4, Classical Mythology, Pramit Chaudhuri, Summer 2014

CLST 1, Antiquity Today: An Introduction to Classical Studies, Robert Cioffi, Summer 2015

ARTH 12.01, Roman Art, Steven Kangas, Spring 2021

ARTH 12.01, Roman Art, Steven Kangas, Spring 2021

ARTH 27.02, Living Stone: Sculpture in Early Modern Italy, Elizabeth Kassler-Taub, Winter 2022

ARTH 12.05, Roman Art, Ada Cohen, Winter 2022

ARTH 18.01, Ancient Art and Myth, Steven Kangas, Spring 2022

ARTH 18.01, Ancient Art and Myth, Steven Kangas, Spring 2022

ARTH 18.01, Ancient Art and Myth, Steven Kangas, Spring 2022

ARTH 18.01, Ancient Art and Myth, Steven Kangas, Spring 2022

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Francine A'Ness, Summer 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Art History 40.01, American Art and Identity, Mary Coffey, Fall 2023

Classical Studies 6.01, Introduction to Classical Archaeology, Margaretha Kramer, Fall 2023

Creative Writing 10.02, Writing and Reading Fiction, Katherine Crouch, Fall 2023

Geography 11.01, Qualitative Methods, Emma Colven, Fall 2023

Geography 2.01, Introduction to Human Geography, Coleen Fox, Fall 2023

Geography 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

Acquisitions 1974-1978, Jaffe-Friede, Strauss & Barrows Galleries, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, December 8, 1978-January 21, 1979.

Antiquity in Rome from the Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment: Selections from Dartmouth's Collections, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 7-September 9, 2001.

Ave Auguste: A Selection from the Collection, Barrows Gallery, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 1-May 15, 1983.

Carpenter Gallery, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, May 31, 1978.

Classical Treasures, Rotunda Gallery, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, November 18-January 22, 1978.

Gene Y. Kim, Class of 1985, Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, February 16, 2005-June 26, 2007.

Gene Y. Kim, Class of 1985, Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, February 28, 1992-June 22, 1997.

Gene Y. Kim, Class of 1985, Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 2008.

Gene Y. Kim, Class of 1985, Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 16, 1997-August 17, 1998.

Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.

New Selections from the College Collection, Carpenter Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, February 23-June 30, 1979.

Objects and Power: Manifestations of Inequality, a student curated exhibition, Professor Alan Covey, ANTH 57, Winter 2013, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 10-August 25, 2013.

Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult, and Daily Life, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 17-March 15, 2015.

Publication History

Treasures of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New York: Hudson Hill Press, 1985, p. 37.

Cornelius C. Vermeule, Greek and Roman Sculpture in America, California: The University of California Press, 1981, p. 251, no. 210.

O. Alvarez, The Celestial Brides: A Study in Mythology and Archaeology, Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Herbert Reichner, 1978, p. 143.

Fine Egyptian, Western Asiatic, and Classical Antiquities, Sale 3934, lot 134, ill., Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., 980 Madison Avenue, New York, New York, December 11, 1976.

A. Rumpf, Die Meerwesen auf den Antiken Sarkophagreliefs, Rome, Italy, 1969, p. 63, no. 145.

A. Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, Cambridge, Great Britain: Univesity of Cambridge Press, 1882, no. 115.

T. Barton Thurber, "Survival and Revival of the Classical Tradition: Antiquity in Rome from the Baroque Era to the Age of Enlightenment." In T. Barton Thurber and Adrian W.B. Randolph, Antiquity in Rome from the Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment: Selections from Dartmouth's Collections, Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2001, pp. 47, 50-51, ill. p. 50, detail p. 78, listed p.71.

Investigations into the Ancient Mediterranean, Special Hood Website: The Yale University Art Gallery Collection-Sharing Initiative, 2012

Alexandra Creola, Nymphs and the Underworld: Place, Landscape, and Religion in Roman Italy, PhD Diss., University of Michigan, 2023, ill. p. 351, fig. 35.

Provenance

Thomas Herbert, 8th earl of Pembroke (1656-1733), Wilton House (probably acquired between 1678-1726); Christies, Manson & Woods, Ltd., April 28, 1964, cat. no. 86; Dr. Joseph R. Little, North Carolina, unknown-1976; sold at Fine Egyptian, Western Asiatic, and Classical Antiquities, Sotheby Park Bernet Inc., New York, Sale 3934, p. 36, lot 134, December 11, 1976; sold to present collection, 1976.

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