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By Scott Roberto / June 4, 12:00 AM
Life in Death
Roman, Severan, Farnese Sarcophagus with Revelers Gathering Grapes, about 225 A.D.


Life, Death & Revelry, a new exhibit at the Fenway’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on view beginning June 14, brings to light new details about one of the institution’s most significant masterpieces, tracing its history over thousands of years. The marble Farnese Sarcophagus, crafted in ancient Rome about 225 A.D., depicts a frieze of satyrs and maenads engaging in life-affirming revelry, which is particularly ironic given the 7,500-pound object’s original use as a coffin. Purchased by the museum’s eponymous founder in 1898, the newly restored work of art—now freed from its usual position so all four sides can be seen—continues to inspire even to this day, as the show also includes a 3D video installation by Artists-in-Residence Paul Kaiser and Marc Downie of the OpenEndedGroup that utilizes detailed photos of the masterwork.

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