Stop 56. Garden Sculpture


Ca. 275
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan before 1913.


Deirdre Jackson, Assistant Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
At the center of the lawn outside the Thaw Gallery sits a Roman sarcophagus, which dates to the third century, during the time of the Roman Empire. This lenos, or tub-shaped, sarcophagus is decorated with S-shaped grooves that resemble a strigil, the curved metal blade used by athletes to scrape dirt and oil from their bodies. The ends of the stone container feature lions attacking their prey, a popular motif for funerary art. Roman sarcophagi would have been placed inside a mausoleum, with the undecorated back against the wall.

In 1912, Pierpont Morgan engaged Beatrix Jones (later Beatrix Farrand), to design a garden for the space behind his home and library. The garden featured antiquities positioned on the lawn and as focal points along pathways. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan has reprised the spirit of the earlier garden, embedding several antique marble sculptures acquired by Morgan among the pebbled paths and on the lawn.