A Collection of Ancient Roman Statues Finally Gets Its Due

by Admin
A Collection of Ancient Roman Statues Finally Gets Its Due

ROME — On March 28, the Torlonia Foundation opened up two rooms in the former stables of Villa Albani Torlonia for the exhibition Antiquarium, putting a handful of newly restored Ancient Roman sculptures from their vast collection on display for free.

The new show inside the 18th-century Villa Albani Torlonia, on view through late June, is cause for celebration, especially given that the collection of statues owned by the princely Torlonia family is involved. Until 1978, the now-shuttered Torlonia Museum hosted the highest-quality collection of ancient statues outside the Vatican. That same year, the family closed the museum and converted it into 98 mini-apartments, a unique curatorial approach, and the statues disappeared into the basement of the former museum.

Curator Carlo Gasparri chose the pieces specifically so the viewer will reflect on 16th- to late-19th-century collectors’ obsessive fixation on “completing” ancient artworks with restorations that often permanently transformed them. For this small display of sculptures, all of which were made by unknown artists, the setting has been beautifully restored with simple dark red walls. One stall remains, its wrought iron fence offering a dramatic background to two heavily restored ancient portrait busts.

Though the exhibition labels note that some identified the subjects as emperors Otho and Balbinus, due to the pervasive desire to assign identities to ancient portraits, neither portrait is really of them, but rather of unknown men. The marble head of so-called Balbinus is ancient. However, his chest and shoulders date to the 19th century, copied from the chest and shoulders of a sculpture in the Vatican Museums of another emperor, Philip the Arab.

Inside the stall is a restored sculpture of a Milo of Croton, a Greek historical figure famous for his strength who was torn to pieces by wolves after boastfully offering to split a tree with his bare hands and then getting trapped by the trunk. However, the original sculpture did not depict him at all. The ancient part of this piece is a nude male torso with a dog head biting into his side and a paw mauling him. These once belonged to the monster Scylla, which had six dog-headed appendages, tearing apart one of the sailors captained by Odysseus.

The 19th-century “restoration” assigning the sculpture its new identity as a Milo of Croton is clever, but has created an entirely new statue. In the second room, a massive marble chariot carrying Eros, the god of love, being pulled by two wild boars dominates. The group of sculptures as a whole has very little that is ancient about it, but is nonetheless a splendid pastiche warning about the uncontrollable force of love. Despite its small size, the display offers a tantalizing taste of the treasures of the Torlonia collection.

Source Link

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.