Apolausis, the personification of enjoyment, welcomes visitors to Dumbarton Oaks as she has done since its doors opened to the public in 1941. The floor had been discovered just a few years before in a bath building located approximately nine kilometers northeast of ancient Antioch, where excavations had been under way since 1932. The Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and Vicinity, led by Princeton University, was supported by several universities and museums and, starting in 1936, Mr. and Mrs. Bliss. In return for their contributions and with the consent of the Syrian Ministry of Antiquities, the donors to the excavation project received archaeological finds. It is for this reason that all of the floor mosaics at Dumbarton Oaks are from Antioch and nearby sites. The cordial offer to enjoy the amenities of the bath is made by the delicately veiled figure of “Enjoyment” holding up a rose. She graced the pavement of the cold-water pool which, along with other rooms built to provide the tepid and hot-water pools, was found in most Roman bath installations. Based on its location at Toprak-en Narlidja, some distance from Antioch, the building probably served as a public bath for a number of nearby villa-farms.
Apolausis is framed by multicolored patterns and colors that are repeated on both a square and diagonal grid, creating a dynamic surround in contrast to the calm figure with whom the entering viewer immediately establishes contact. The fan-shaped section of the floor corresponded to the original end of the room.
Antioch-on-the-Orontes, Publications of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity, Vol. 3 (Princeton, 1941), 21, 183, no. 124, pl. 58.
The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection of Harvard University, Handbook of the Collection (Washington, D.C., 1946), 102, no. 185, fig. p. 105.
D. Levi, Antioch Mosaic Pavements, Publications of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity, 4 (Princeton, 1947), 26, 304ff., pl. 67d, 168b.
The Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Harvard University (Washington, D.C., 1955), 146, no. 286, fig. p. 149.
G. M. A. Richter, Catalogue of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Dumbarton Oaks Catalogues (Cambridge, 1956), 61, no. 42, pl. 27.
Handbook of the Byzantine Collection (Washington, D.C., 1967), 102-103, no. 348.
J. C. Balty, "Apolausis," Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, 2 (Zürich, 1984) 182, no. 1.
F. Cimok and H. Müzesi, Antioch Mosaics, A Corpus (Istanbul, 2000), 237.
J. Huskinson, "Surveying the Scene: Antioch Mosaic Pavements as a source of Historical Evidence," in Culture and Society in Later Roman Antioch, ed. I. Sandwell and J. Huskinson, Oxford, 2004, 136 and Fig. 8.1.
G. Bühl, ed., Dumbarton Oaks: The Collections (Washington, D.C., 2008), 58, pl. p. 59.
A. Drandaki, D. Papanikola-Bakirtz?, and A. Tourta, Heaven & Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, October 16th, 2013-March 2nd, 2014; April 9th-August 25th, 2014, (Athens, 2013) vol. 1, 203, pl. p. 202, fig. 78.
Excavated at Antioch, Syria, 1937-1939, (b368-M144; From bath of Toprak-en-Narlidja, Room 10).
Acquired by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss from the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity, Princeton University Department of Art and Archaeology, in return for their support of the excavations, 1938.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, 1938-November 1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, DC.