Kallos Gallery

A Roman marble theatre mask acroterion


Circa 3rd Century AD

28 cm high

A Roman marble theatre mask acroterion

Circa 3rd Century AD


The acroterion is in the form of a theatre mask of a Maenad and would originally have come from the corner of the lid of a Roman marble sarcophagus. It is a powerful rendering of an iconic subject with very fine quality 18th-19th Century Grand Tour restoration.

Theatre masks such as the Sassoon mask often appear on the lids of sarcophagi as well as in miniature on the corners of cinerary urn lids. There is a similar example on a sarcophagus relief fragment in Schloss Worlitz, Germany: Arachne database no.32067.

Such theatre masks tended to be used for the lids of sarcophagi decorated with the Muses. For example, the Muse and Philosopher sarcophagus for L. Publius Peregrinus from the Museo Torlonia, Rome, inv. 424: see fig. 51, p. 49 in McCann, A.M., Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1978.

For further discussion of the iconography of theatre masks, cf. Bieber, M., The History of The Greek and Roman Theater, London 1961.


Sir Philip Sassoon (1888-1939), Port Lympne, England

Athelhampton House, England, acquired before 1955

Private collection, Isle of Man

UK private collection



CC. Vermeule, Notes on a new edition of Michaelis, Part II. A.J.A. 60, 1956, p. 323.

Arachne: database no. 50177

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