Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art

Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 194. A Roman Marble Funerary Altar inscribed for Caius Comisius Helpistus, 1st Century A.D..

Property from an English Private Collection

A Roman Marble Funerary Altar inscribed for Caius Comisius Helpistus, 1st Century A.D.

Lot Closed

July 5, 01:36 PM GMT


15,000 - 25,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from an English Private Collection

A Roman Marble Funerary Altar inscribed for Caius Comisius Helpistus

1st Century A.D.

carved on the corners with eagles beneath putti holding beribboned garlands of leaves, fruits, and flowers hanging loosely across all four sides, and within the front lunette with confronted birds pecking at a garland and three lines of Latin inscription reading C(aio) Comisio Helpisto / V(ixit) a(nnos) IIII m(enses) III / Comisia C(ai) f(ilia) delicio suo ("To Comisius Helpistus. He lived four years and three months. Comisia, daughter of Caius, [had this made] for her ‘delight’"), four birds below, a patera within the lunette on one short side, a ewer on the other, the lunette on the back left blank, the base and cornice ornamented with a lesbian kymation pattern.

74 by 64.5 by 46 cm.

Cardinal Domenico Passionei (1682-1781)

Benedetto Passionei (1719-1787), Fossombrone

Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (1716-1799), Rome

Thomas Anson (1767-1818), 1st Viscount Anson, Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire, acquired from the above (Mr George Robins, The Splendid Property of Every Denomination Appertaining to Shugborough Hall, August 1st, 1842, no. 50: "A singularly fine antique MARBLE ROMAN ALTAR, of the most elaborate sculpture, in bold alto rilievo, representing 4 corner figures supported by eagles, a festoon of flowers encircling the centre with birds, scroll work and a Latin inscription, 29 inches high, 25 inches wide")

William Lowther, 2nd Earl of Lonsdale (1787-1872), Lowther Castle, Penrith, Cumberland, probably acquired at the above sale

by descent to Lancelot Lowther, 6th Earl of Lonsdale (1867-1953), Lowther Castle (probably Maple & Co., Ltd., and Thomas Wyatt, Penrith, Lowther Castle, near Penrith, Cumberland. The Major Part of the Earl of Lonsdale's Collection, April 29th-May 1st, 1947)

English private collection, acquired in the late 1940/1950s

by descent to the present owner


[Michelangelo Monsagrati], Iscrizioni antiche, disposte per varie classi e illustrate con alcune annotazioni da Benedetto Passionei, Lucca, 1763, p. 38, no. 21 (

Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, Raccolta d'antiche statue, busti, bassirilievi ed altre sculture, vol. III, Rome, 1772, pl. 54: "Piedistallo Presso il Sig.r Tommaso Anson in Inghilterra sul quale stà la Venere del No. 36. del primo Tomo" (

Sebastiano Donati, Ad Novum Thesaurum Veterum Inscriptionum cl.v. Ludovici Antonii Muratorii supplementum collectore Sebastiano Donato ..., in quo praeter inscriptiones continentur opera, de quibus in praefatione, cum tabulis aeneis, vol. 2, Lucca, Leonardo Venturini, 1775, p. 317, no. 8 (

Seymour Howard, Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. Eighteenth-Century Restorer, New York, 1982, p. 262, no. 4

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, vol. VI.3, Berlin, 1886, p. 1822, no. 16055 (

Dietrich Boschung, Antike Grabaltäre aus den Nekropolen Roms, Bern, 1987, p. 102, no. 757

Christian Laes, “Desperately Different? Delicia Children in the Roman Household”, in Early Christian Families in Context: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Cambridge, England, 2003, p. 313, note 35

Viccy Coltman, "Thomas Anson's sculpture collection at Shugborough: 'living good and pleasing' or 'much taste a turn and Roman splendor'", Sculpture Journal, vol. 12, 2004, p. 47

In Thomas Anson's collection at Shugborough the present altar served as a pedestal for a statue of Aphrodite (, the current whereabouts of which remain unknown.

On the specific meaning of delicium in this context see the discussion by Laes 2003.