Lot 2
  • 2

A Hellenistic Marble Grave Stele, Eastern Mediterranean, circa 2nd/1st Century B.C.

15,000 - 25,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • A Hellenistic Marble Grave Stele, Eastern Mediterranean
  • Marble
  • 39 1/2 by 30 in. 100.3 by 76.2 cm.
carved within a frame in high relief with a woman, standing with the weight on her right leg, and wearing a chiton and himation, a diminuative female attendant standing to the left and holding a basket and fan.


Sir Francis Cook, 1st Baronet (1817-1901), Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, probably acquired after the late 1870s, subsequent to Adolf Michaelis's visit
by descent to Sir Francis Cook, 4th Baronet (1907-1978), sold shortly after WWII
Rudi Oriental Art, New York
Robert L. Hall (1924-1997), professor of prehistory at the New School for Social Research, and Myrna Hall Harlan (b. 1938), New York, acquired prior to 1964 from the above
by descent to the present owner


Adolf Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, Cambridge, 1882, p. 639, no. 70
Eugenie Strong, "Antiques in the Collection of Sir Frederic Cook, Bart., at Doughty House, Richmond," Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 28, 1908, p. 18, no. 25, pl. XIII
Eugenie Strong, Antiques in the Collection of Sir Frederic Cook, Bart., at Doughty House, Richmond [re-print of JHS article], 1908, p. 20, no. 25, pl. XIII
Arachne, no. 50540 (http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/50540)

Catalogue Note

Adolf Michaelis and Eugenie Strong record that this stele was reportedly found in Sicily, but that the style is similar to examples found in Asia Minor. This example, when in the Cook collection, would have been among other examples of stelai from Asia Minor (see Strong, Journal of Hellenic Studies, pp. 17-18, nos. 21 and 23, pl. 12, now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and Strong, Journal of Hellenic Studies, p. 7, no. 3, pl. 2, and p. 17, no. 22, pl. 12, now in the British Museum).

For a related example from Asia Minor in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, inv. no. 935, see E. Pfuhl and H. Möbius, Die Ostgriechischen Grabreliefs, Mainz am Rhein, 1977, vol. I, no. 384, pp. 131 and 132, pl. 63. Other examples featuring an attendant with a fan include a stele in the Chios Archaeological Museum, inv. no. 389 (Pfuhl-Möbius, op. cit., no. 440, pp. 145-146, pl. 73), which appears to be made of a white marble with grey veins similar to the stone of the present example (possibly proconnesian marble, which is native to Asia Minor) and another stele in the Ashmolean Museum (Pfuhl-Möbius, op. cit., no. 436, pl. 73).

The central figure is of the Small Herculaneum type. The Large and Small Herculaneum Women are so-called after a pair of figures found in Herculaneum, now in the Dresden State Art Collections, and thought to be Roman copies after lost Greek originals by Lysippos representing Demeter and Persephone (see G.E. Rizzo, Prassitele, Milan, 1932, p. 91, pls. CXXXV-CXXXVI). The Small Herculaneum type is characterized by the positioning of the hands, the left held close to the side of the body and the right pulling the himation over the shoulder.

Rudi, born Rudolph Albert to poor Jewish parents in Brooklyn in 1928, became a charismatic spiritual leader in the 1960s and a well-known purveyor of Asian art in Greenwich Village under the name Rudi Oriental Arts. He pursued the Hindu title of swami in the mid 1960s, becoming Swami Rudrananda. His book, Spiritual Cannibalism, describes physical and spiritual exercises meant to release negative energy and promote gratitude. Rudi died in a small plane crash in the Catskill Mountains on February 21st, 1973.

We are grateful to John Somerville, Keeper of the Cook Collection Archive, for his help in cataloguing this lot.