Season Sarcophagus (detail), Roman, ca. 260–280. Italy, Florence, Roman. Marble with traces of polychrome. Museum purchase, M. H. de Young Endowment Fund. 54662
Ancient Art has been an integral part of the Legion of Honor and the de Young since they were founded. Antiquities were considered essential to any museum in the early twentieth century, and both M.H. de Young, founder of the de Young, and Alma Spreckels, founder of the Legion of Honor, furnished their institutions with a variety of ancient objects. The works they brought to the Museums, and those that have been added over the years cover a broad geographical and chronological range across the ancient Mediterranean basin—primarily Egypt, the Near East, Greece, the Aegean Islands, Etruria and Rome.
The collection is housed at the Legion of Honor and contains a number of rare works of high quality and importance from Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Rome. Splendid examples of art from these early civilizations provide the foundation for the understanding of Western art and the procession of cultures through the ages. Ancient art objects on view at the Legion feature a wide gamut of sculpture, statues, figurines, vessels, vases, jewelry and carved reliefs made of diverse materials such as marble and other stones, bronze, gold, terracotta, wood and glass.