Roman - Mosaic Floor: Medusa, 117-138 AD


Mosaic Floor: Medusa, 117-138 AD

Stone and glass, 500.4 x 1258.1 cm (197 x 495 5/16 in.)


Object details

Accession number



One of seven mosaics excavated on the property of Cavaliere Alessandro Piacentini in Montebello, 8 miles north of Rome where the Via Tiberina joins the Via Flaminia near the Villa Livia, in March 1892. One of the other mosaics is now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (45.16.2).
Examined by Isabella Stewart Gardner and John L. Gardner on 12 March 1895.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the antique dealer Pio Marinangeli, Rome on 2 November 1897 for £10,000.


D. Marchetti. Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità (January 1892), pp. 112-15. (describes the excavation)
Orazio Marucchi. "Di un pavimento a mosaico con figure egizie scoperto presso la via Flaminia". Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma 20 (1892), p. 163.
Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), p. 3. (as "Roman Pavement from the Villa Livia")
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 43, pl. 6.
Marion Elizabeth Blake. "Roman Mosaics of the Second Century in Italy." Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 13 (1936), p. 119.
Morris Carter. "Mrs. Gardner & The Treasures of Fenway Court" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), pp. 57-58.
William N. Mason. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 6, no. 6 (7 Oct. 1962), pp. 1-2. (as 1st century)
“Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 7, no. 34 (19 Apr. 1964), p. 2.
“Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 7, no. 35 (26 Apr. 1964), p. 2.
“Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 7, no. 36 (3 May 1964), p. 2.
Andrew Oliver, Jr. "The Montebello Mosiacs." American Journal of Archaeology 69 (1965), pp. 268-70, fig. 1. (as probably laid during the reign of Emporer Hadrian, AD 117-138)
“Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 9, no. 6 (10 Oct. 1965), p. 2. (excerpting Andrew Oliver, Jr., pp. 268-70)
George L. Stout. Treasures from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1969), pp. 58-59. (as 1st century)
George L. Stout. "A Roman Mosaic Pavement Rebuilt" in Studies in Conservation 14 (1969), pp. 165-69.
Cornelius C. Vermeule, III. “The Mosaic from Montebello near Rome: An Early Manifestation of the Seasons in Roman Imperial Art.” Fenway Court (1981), pp. 18-25.
Rollin van N. Hadley. Museums Discovered: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1981), pp. 16-17, 132-33. (as 2nd century)
Anne Higonnet. "Private Museums, Public Leadership: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Art of Cultural Authority." Cultural Leadership in America, Art Matronage and Patronage. Fenway Court, vol. 27 (Boston, 1997), pp. 79-92.
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 2-3, 10-11.
Andrea Venier. "I mosaici ritrovati nell'800 sulla via Flaminia ed esposti in America." Vigna Clara Online, Rome, accessed 2015.

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In 1892 an ancient villa was discovered just north of Rome, near the villa of Augustus’s wife Livia. Several well-preserved mosaic floors adorned the baths of the villa. A second mosaic from the villa, showing two figures in Egyptian style, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jack and Isabella Gardner inspected the mosaics in 1895 and purchased this floor in 1897. The delicate tracery of this mosaic resembles those made in Pompei around 25 AD (the late second or third style), but brick stamps indicate that it was laid a century later, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.

Source: Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 11.