National Museums Liverpool Acquires Magnificent Antiquities Collection

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National Museums Liverpool has acquired one of the most important collections of antiquities in the world from the estate of Lord Howard of Henderskelfe. The collection, assembled in the 18th century by the 4th and 5th Earls of Carlisle, will remain together on display at Castle Howard through an offer in lieu of Inheritance Tax negotiated by Sotheby’s Tax, Heritage and UK Museums, and builds on an earlier offer in lieu which also transferred ownership of antiquities from the collection to Liverpool. This magnificent group ranges from full length sculptures and marble heads, to funerary sculpture and Animalia. Click ahead to discover highlights from the collection.

National Museums Liverpool Acquires Magnificent Antiquities Collection

  • A Roman marble figure of a boy riding a goat, 2nd century A.D., possibly representing the young God Bacchus, and an Archaistic Roman marble relief, circa 1st century B.C./1st century A.D., with a figure of Victory crowning trophies of war, flanked by two probably 16th-century Italian busts on top of a pair of painted and gilt Egyptians style pedestals probably by C.H. Tatham.
    The figure of the boy riding the goat was possibly restored by Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734-1818), the best restorer of Roman animal sculpture in the late 18th/early 19th century. He was the main provider to the collection of ancient Animalia formed by Pope Pius VI for the Sala degli Animali in the Vatican.

  • A Roman marble tall quadrangular funerary altar, circa late 1st century A.D., assembled in the 18th century at Castle Howard with a Roman marble cinerary urn, circa 2nd century A.D. and A Roman marble funerary relief, circa 1st century A.D., with the figure of a nude youth or Hero.
    The works of funerary sculpture in the collection at Castle Howard, consisting of urns, sarcophagi, and funerary reliefs is one of the largest and most significant collections of Roman Imperial marble funerary monuments in England. This marble funerary altar circa late 1st Century A.D is one of the most consummate examples of its type in existence.

  • A Roman marble head of The Emperor Balbinus, circa 3rd century A.D.
    The bust of Balbinus is an excellent example of portraits of late Roman Emperors. It is an aesthetically good example of its kind depicting the ‘soldier emperor’ (see biography in Section IV): the hair worn in a military crewcut, the stubble hinting at time spent on military campaigns, the martial look, all demand respect to an Emperor who desperately needed it away from the battlefield.

  • A Roman marble head of Silenus, circa 2nd century A.D
    Perhaps the most important and finest head in the collection is the head of Silenus. A goat-related demi-god and a significant member of the retinue of Bacchus, the sculpture displays the bestial qualities of the elder Satyr. The over-life-size face is highly expressive with a mischievous quality and the bone structure is rendered suggestively.

  • A Roman marble cinerary urn in the form of an amphora, 2nd century A.D.
    Of unusual form it was replicating Greek prototypes and shows clearly how artistically dependent Rome was on Greece and more specifically Greek classical art of the 5th century B.C. The amphora shape, vine leaf decorations and the body of radiating tongues all pay homage to ‘the glory that was Greece, and the grandeur that was Rome’.

  • A Roman marble double cinerary urn for three members of the Vigellius Family namely M.Vigelius Logus, Vigellia Iucunda, and Vigellia Anthusa, 2nd century A.D.
    Found between 1733 and 1735 in the Vigna of Bernardino Nario at the Via Salaria outside Rome. This urn was found together with three other urns belonging to the Vigellius family.

  • The collection includes a group of four full-length sculptures in the Great Hall of Castle Howard (two pictured), three of which have been accepted in lieu. The other is already owned by National Museums Liverpool.
    Also pictured are A Roman marble head of Bacchus, 2nd century A.D and A Roman marble male portrait head of the time of Gallienus, 3rd century A.D.

  • Bust of Antinous, after the antique, Italian, 18th century
    Antinous was born circa 110 in Bithynia and died in 130. Famed for his beauty, he was the lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who deified Antinous after his death from drowning in Egypt. Hadrian erected temples to him throughout the empire and founded a city, named Antinoöpolis, in his honour. An obelisk, now in Rome near the Porta Maggiore, marked his tomb. Antinous became an architype of youthful beauty in the ancient world.

  • A Roman marble head of Io, circa 2nd century A.D.
    A rare representation of the woman whom Zeus turned into a cow to help her escape Hera's jealous wrath. She is shown in the middle of her metamorphosis, with diminutive horns emerging from her forehead. In Roman art she is usually associated with and worshipped alongside the goddess Isis.


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