Medici Vase

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The Medici Vase is a monumental marble bell-shaped krater sculpted in Athens in the second half of the 1st century AD as a garden ornament for the Roman market.

Standing 1.52 metres (approximately 5 feet) tall, with a gadrooned everted lip, it has a deep frieze carved with a mythological bas-relief that successfully defies secure identification: a half-draped female figure Iphigenia seated below a statue of a goddess on a high plinth, restored as Diana, with heroic warriors on either side, perhaps Agamemnon and either Achilles or Odysseus standing to either side. Two fluted loop handles rise from satyrs' heads on either side of the acanthus-leaf carved base, and it stands on a speading gadrooned base on a low square plinth.

The vase reappeared in the 1598 inventory of the Villa Medici, Rome, but its origin is unknown. Transferred from the villa in 1780,Maria Maugeri, "Il trasferimento a Firenze della collezione antiquaria di Villa Medici in epoca leopoldina", Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 44.2/3 (2000:306-334) p. 334. it has ever since been displayed in the Uffizi Gallery, today in the first-floor Verone sull’Arno overlooking the River Arno. It was often illustrated in engravings, the most famous of which is by Stefano della Bella (1656); he depicted the young Medici heir who would become Grand Duke Cosimo III seated, drawing the vase.

Often paired as garden ornaments since the...
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