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Marble Room Urn


TitleMarble Room Urn
Artist/MakerUnidentified
Date1870 not later than
MediumCast iron
Dimensions h. 16 x  w. 14 in. ( h. 40.6 x  w. 35.6 cm)
Credit LineU.S. Senate Collection
Accession Number53.00021.000


  • Object Description
  • Believed to have been acquired by the Senate around 1870, this cast-iron urn, together with its original cast-iron pedestal, has a long association with the Marble Room in the U.S. Capitol. The urn's design is based on the legendary Warwick Vase, an ancient Roman marble vessel that was widely replicated in various sizes and media throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries.

    Like the Warwick Vase, the Senate's urn is heavily ornamented with mythological imagery. The Roman god Bacchus and his attendants are prominently featured in relief along with motifs of the lion's pelt of Heracles and a thyrsus staff (a fennel stalk covered with vines and leaves). A grapevine twines around the top edge of the urn and terminates in two handles. The rim and base of the urn are decorated respectively with egg-and-dart molding and acanthus leaves, ornaments often found in ancient Greco-Roman art and architecture.

    The Senate's urn first appears in a published inventory of furnishings for the Marble Room in 1870. Stereoview cards dated ca. 1866 to 1870 confirm its use in the space with the urn's image reflected in the infinity of mirrors. The stately Marble Room—which takes its name from its majestic marble colonnade, walls, and ceiling—was constructed as part of the Capitol's 1859 extension.