Fragment from the Roman Forum

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(sponsored by Joseph and Arlene Ferrara)

This Fragment of architectural sculpture is decorated one one side with a branch that generates open circles and ends with a cross. The Piece is fragmented: only the left end and the back of the right side, which bears a traumatic crack, remain. The ruptured state of the piece prevents an understanding of the original form. Of the decorations, only a single spiral is intact. The entire piece was painted red as evidenced by the traces of red paint that remains consistent on the surfaces.

This piece is particular in both form and type of decoration; it is also rare due to the presence of the film of paint, which is likely original. The vine motif, that forms a circle ending in a cross that is inscribed in the circle itself, is present but very rare in the repertoire of early medieval sculpture (8th-10th Century). A more compelling comparison is that with a pillar on exhibition in the National Roman Museum-Crypta Balbi, from the Roman Forum ruins, dating to the first half of the 9th Century: although there the spirals are all the same size and the vines are broken and not as smooth as the Vatican work. Based on these considerations, the fragments can be dated between the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th Century.