(active around 350 in Rome)

Sarcophagus of the "Two Brothers"

c. 350
Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican

This monumental sarcophagus (c. 325-350) from the Basilica San Paolo fuori le Mura is notable for its exceptional artistic quality. Restoration work has revealed that the surface of the marble may have been originally embellished with gilding and polychrome finishes. The similarity between the two characters portrayed in the central round medallion, arranged like a hinged shell, gives rise to the name of the sarcophagus. Various biblical scenes, rich in original iconographic details, are arranged seamlessly at two levels along the front panel: at the top there is the resurrection of Lazarus, the prediction of the denial of Peter, the consignment of the Law to Moses, and on the other side of the medallion, the sacrifice of Isaac and the presentation of Christ to Pilate. At the bottom, there is Peter baptising his gaolers, Daniel in the lions' den, the rare scene of Peter's catechesis to the soldiers, the miracle of the man blind from birth and the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.