Getty Villa Museum Paper

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Getty Villa Museum Paper

Sarcophagus with Scenes of Bacchus

A sarcophagus was a method of cremation and burial that was widely popular in the later Republican Period. It was most commonly carved in a block of stone, or in this case a marble, where the body was usually placed. The ‘Sarcophagus with Scenes of Bacchus’, being one of the exquisite Roman funerary arts in the 1800s, showed remarkable detail in their marble work. Especially seeing how small the real object was in-person, it did surprise me on how much the sarcophagus was ornamented. This certain sarcophagus is evident that it was from the Roman period because of the style that it portrayed. It was usually made with marble and had full-length relief sculptural portraits of the deceased that were halfway wrapped around the block. The portraits on this sarcophagus are very precise and comprehensive, yet very smooth on the lines. It is clear that the sculptor did take a lot of time and energy on this piece, knowing that a wealthy and powerful person could only have purchased these funeral receptacles. As for the process of the carving, I would have to say, based on the decorativeness and compacted size, the tools were similar to what a traditional sculptor would use to carve marble, but a much smaller size. Some basic implements used for marble were tooth chisel, point chisel, the drill, and a rasp. There were also other techniques that might have been used to smooth out the overall sculpting, which was to sand it. The contrast of depth and high relief of these figures were most likely done to create the light and shade of the overall image and allow the eye to wander from one end to the other.…...

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