A Very Fine Italian 19th Century Greco-Roman Style Carved Carrara Marble Bas-Relief Frieze, after the antique. The finely carved white marble frieze in relief, depicting a mythological scene of daily life in Ancient Rome in a Roman baths setting; with figures of Pan playing flute to dancing maidens, Roman Gods, children, a plebeian worker and a herm. The frieze has now been framed within a modern rouge Royal marble frame and converted into a twin-pedestal coffee table with a glass top. The frieze circa 1860-1870.
Frieze Width: 55 3/4 inches (141.6 cm)
Frieze Height: 12 1/2 inches (37.8 cm)
Frieze Depth: 4 inches (10.2 cm)
Coffee Table Width: 60 1/4 inches (153 cm)
Coffee Table Height: 17 inches (43.2 cm)
Coffee Table Height with Glass Top: 17 1/4 inches (43.8 cm)
Coffee Width: 17 3/8 inches (44.2 cm)
Coffee Table Width with Glass Top: 21 1/2 inches (54.6 cm)
Ref.: A2672 - Lot 11453
Bas-relief is a type of carved relief (sculpture) that has less depth to the faces and figures than they actually have, when measured proportionately (to scale). This technique keeps the natural shapes of the figures and allows the work to be seen from many angles without twisting the figures themselves.
There is a continuation of the bas-relief technique into the next category, altorilievo, or high relief. High relief makes deeper images than bas-relief. Instead of shallow backgrounds that are a few inches (cm) deep at most, they can be up to several feet (a few meters) deep in altorilievo.
Some of the best examples of bas-relief are the Assyrian Lion Hunt Reliefs, which are housed at the British Museum. The attention to detail and appearance of the lions moving make them stand out, especially for the time period they were made in.
Ancient Roman bathing played a major part in ancient Roman culture and society. It was one of the most common daily activities and was practiced across a wide variety of social classes. Though many contemporary cultures see bathing as a very private activity conducted in the home, bathing in Rome was a communal activity. While the extremely wealthy could afford bathing facilities in their homes, private baths were very uncommon, and most people bathed in the communal baths (thermae). In some ways, these resembled modern-day destination spas as there were facilities for a variety of activities from exercising to sunbathing to swimming and massage.
Such was the importance of baths to Romans that a catalogue of buildings in Rome from 354 AD documented 952 baths of varying sizes in the city. Public baths became common throughout the empire as a symbol of "Romanitas" or a way to define themselves as Roman. They were some of the most common and most important public buildings in the empire as some of the first buildings built after the empire would conquer a new area.
Although the wealthiest Romans might set up a bath in their townhouses or their country villas, heating a series of rooms or even a separate building especially for this purpose, and soldiers might have a bathhouse provided at their fort (as at Cilurnum on Hadrian's Wall, or at Bearsden fort), they still often frequented the numerous public bathhouses in the cities and towns throughout the empire.
Small bathhouses, called balneum (plural balnea), might be privately owned, while they were public in the sense that they were open to the populace for a fee. Larger baths called thermae were owned by the state and often covered several city blocks. The largest of these, the Baths of Diocletian, could hold up to 3,000 bathers. Fees for both types of baths were quite reasonable, within the budget of most free Roman males.
Some of the earliest descriptions of western bathing practices came from Greece. The Greeks began bathing regimens that formed the foundation for modern spa procedures. These Aegean people utilized small bathtubs, washbasins, and foot baths for personal cleanliness. The earliest such findings are the baths in the palace complex at Knossos, Crete, and the luxurious alabaster bathtubs excavated in Akrotiri, Santorini; both date from the mid-2nd millennium BC. They established public baths and showers within their gymnasium complexes for relaxation and personal hygiene.
Greek mythology specified that certain natural springs or tidal pools were blessed by the gods to cure disease. Around these sacred pools, Greeks established bathing facilities for those desiring to heal. Supplicants left offerings to the gods for healing at these sites and bathed themselves in hopes of a cure. The Spartans developed a primitive steam bath. At Serangeum, an early Greek balneum (bathhouse, loosely translated), bathing chambers were cut into the hillside into the rock above the chambers held bathers' clothing. One of the bathing chambers had a decorative mosaic floor depicting a driver and chariot pulled by four horses, a woman followed by two dogs, and a dolphin below. Thus, the early Greeks used natural features, but expanded them and added their own amenities, such as decorations and shelves. During the later Greek civilization, bathhouses were often built in conjunction with athletic fields.
There is little to no evidence that bathhouses originated in Greece at all or even a public washing area or fountains.