An Unusual Carved c.1870 Stone Carving of a Roman Amphora Urn


Origin: English
Period: Mid/Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860-80
Height: 24.5 inches
Width 13.75 inches
Depth: 10.75 inches
Weight: 52.7 KGS (all approx and at maximum)

The generously sized unusual nineteenth century stone carving in the form of a Roman Amphora, classically shaped, having an elongated conical body tapering to a peg toe, rounded shoulder merging with long narrowed neck; biconical rim moulding with carved acanthus and scroll banding and integral candle sconce spike.

The condition of the whole is mostly pleasing with a good even spread of weathering commensurate with exposure to the elements giving her an evocative all round character and colour. One handle has at one stage become completely detached and then been well repaired. The amphora stands on it’s own accord but we would strongly recommend securing it if leaving it in an upright position without support, or otherwise once again cementing it into a plinth for a more permanent fixture.

The limestone or sandstone amphora was probably part of a larger composition, perhaps one of a pair, either side of a grand stairway or entrance, and sat on a pedestal, this would of course help to explain the size of the item and also why there is an integral candle stand present for illumination purposes. This is an unusual feature though, it has to be said, and it gives the piece an even higher decorative merit.

Roman amphorae were used for many purposes, particularly for storage purposes. They varied considerably in size from as small as this one to over a metre high. They would be sealed in various ways, with a stopper and cloth and sometimes the stopper would be sealed with the merchants or owners seal. Most were produced with a pointed base to allow upright storage by being partly embedded in sand or soft ground. This also facilitated transport by ship, whereby the amphorae were tightly packed together with ropes passed through their handles to prevent breaking or toppling during rough seas.

This mid-Victorian depiction of a Roman vessel is a highly original piece of garden or tabletop stoneware, benefiting from glorious Victorian craftsmanship, with a sense of real ceremony when lit with candle. It’s rather ‘Game of Thrones’; you won’t be seeing another.