From Vatican Museums (Vatican City)
Cast of proper left side of grave altar of M. Antonius Alexander
Photo: R.A.
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Cast of proper left side of grave altar of M. Antonius Alexander
Plaster cast, late 18th or early 19th century, 600 X 450 X 80 X 10.05 kg
Purchased from Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A., 1830
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The cast is of the proper left panel of a grave altar for a man, M. Antonius Alexander, who was the freedman of a freedman of Antonia the Younger (niece of Augustus, grandmother of Caligula, and mother of Claudius). The original object is in the Museo Chiaramonti of the Musei Vaticani (no. 1850, H: 85, W: 65 cm. It was acquired from the Giustiniani collection but had already passed through two collections before that. The altar can be dated securely to the mid-or later second century because of the individuals mentioned.

The panel shows birds drinking from a large krater or vase and a smaller pitcher stands nearby. It is an unusual depiction for such a monument; these monuments had a repetitive and set visual repertoire. The water vessels were used in religious ceremony and were probably intended to recall the funerary ceremony.

The cast and a cast of the similar right panel of the grave altar, 11/898, were part of the collection of Thomas Lawrence. His casts were acquired by the Royal Academy after his death in 1830.

This work is currently on display in the North Dining Room, Keeper's House, Royal Academy of Arts.