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Statue of a Man, torso

Roman art


This sculpture was unearthed during excavations in 1820 in the Lucidi vineyard, between Monteporzio and Frascati, owned by the Borghese family. Recorded in the Portico in 1832 by Nibby, the male figure is nude except for a pleated band on its back.  The clearly defined, lean physique is reminiscent of the iconography of Hercules Victor, known in a few copies. The work was probably made between the first and second centuries CE, based on Attic models from the fourth century BCE.


Object details

Inventory
XVI
Location
Date
I-II secolo d.C.
Classification
Medium
Luni marble
Dimensions
altezza cm 94
Provenance

Unearthed in 1820 during excavations in the Lucidi vineyard, owned by the Borghese family (Moreno, Sforzini 1987, pp. 348). Borghese Collection, cited for the first time by Nibby in the Portico in 1832 (pp. 16–17, no. 6).  Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, C., p. 41, no. 1. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 2008 - Consorzio Capitolino of Elisabetta Zatti and Elisabetta Caracciolo

Commentary

This sculpture was recorded in the Portico by Nibby in 1832, along with two other ‘semi-colossal’ torsos, all of which the author wrote were unearthed in the Lucidi vineyard in 1826.  The excavations were commissioned by Prince Camillo Borghese in 1820 on the family property at Santa Croce, between Monte Porzio and Frascati, that had been granted in emphyteusis to Cesare Lucidi (Valenti 2003, p. 188, note 16). According to Valenti, who studied the sculptures discovered in the vineyard, the archaeological exploration of the area was carried out in a single campaign between 1820 and 1821 and the date reported by Nibby was a slip of the pen (Valenti 2003, p. 188, note 17).

In 1832, Nibby described the sculpture as ‘exquisite: full of truth and softness’ and even reminiscent of the hand of Praxiteles, suggesting that it is an Apollo in the act of drawing his bow (pp. 16–17, no. 6); in 1841, he noted that it was ‘on a cippus of Catilia Paolina’ (p. 910). In 1893, Venturi labelled it as the ‘torso of a statue of a nude man’ (p. 11). In 1925, Lippold, revived Nibby’s theory about the place and date it was unearthed. Describing the statue, which he considered of very fine quality, he noted the inclusion of anatomical details such as the veins on the abdomen, the bronze-ringed nipples and the distinctive length of fabric that must have come down from the head onto the shoulders (p. 2, no. 2708).

The sculpture is larger than life size and depicts a standing young man. The body, supported by a base under the left hip, must have rested its weight on the tense right leg, while the left would have been slightly advanced. The contraction of the shoulder muscles suggests that the head was turned to the left and crowned with the length of fabric that is now reduced to the pleated fragment on the shoulders. The torso is turned slightly to the left, highlighting the linea alba. The figure’s physique is lean and taut, with an accurate description of the muscle bundles and veins on the abdomen. The pectorals are emphasised by a deep vertical furrow and the nipples are outlined in bronze, while the pubic area, covered by a leaf added during restoration, preserves the curly pubic hair. The figure, which Moreno argued is a statue of Hercules Victor and a copy of an original from the fourth century BCE (1980, p. 8), shares strong similarities with a small statue in the Museo Chiaramonti. The left arm of this small sculpture is bent and held out from the body, a pose that could also have been that of the Borghese left arm (Inv. 2131: Todisco 1993, p. 41, no. 313). Two gilt bronze statues of the hero, one of which was unearthed the theatre of Pompeii and is now in the Vatican Museum (Inv. MV.252.0.0: Viacava 1994, p. 92, no. 18, figs 88, 88a) and the other of which was found in the Forum Boriarum and is now in the Capitoline Museum (Inv. MC1265: Torelli, Menichetti, Grassigli 2008, p. 105), also have similar features. Based on study of the proportions and strong modelling of the body, both are held to derived from Attic models from the fourth century BCE, which could also be the case for the present sculpture, which is roughly datable to between the first and second centuries CE.

Giulia Ciccarello




Bibliography
  • A. Nibby, Monumenti scelti della Villa Borghese, Roma 1832, pp. 16-17, n. 6.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano del Palazzo della Villa Borghese, Roma 1840, p. 6, n. 15.
  • A. Nibby, Roma nell’anno 1838, Roma 1841, p. 910, n. 15.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano del Palazzo della Villa Borghese, Roma 1854, p. 7, n. 20.
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 11.
  • G. Lippold, Photographische Einzel auf nahmen antike Sculpturen, X, 1, München 1925, p. 2, n. 2708.
  • G. Giusti, La Galleria Borghese e la Villa di Umberto Primo a Roma, Roma 1904, p. 13.
  • A. De Rinaldis, La R. Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1935, p. 5.
  • P. Moreno, S. Staccioli, Museo e Galleria Borghese. La collezione archeologica, Roma 1980, p. 8.
  • P. Moreno, Le collezioni della Galleria Borghese, Milano 1981, p. 101.
  • P. Moreno, C. Sforzini, I ministri del principe Camillo: cronaca della collezione Borghese di antichità dal 1807 al 1832, in “Scienze dell’Antichità”, 1, 1987, p. 348, fig. 6.
  • L. Todisco, Scultura greca del IV secolo. Maestri e scuole di statuaria tra classicità ed ellenismo, Milano 1993, p. 41, n. 313.
  • A. Viacava, L’atleta di Fano, Roma, 1994, p. 92, n. 18, figg. 88, 88a.
  • P. Moreno, A. Viacava, I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese. La collezione archeologica di Camillo e Francesco Borghese, Roma 2003, pp. 85-86, n. 39.
  • M. Valenti, Gli scavi Borghese nella Vigna Lucidi a Frascati, in “Lazio e Sabina”, II, atti del convegno (a cura di) G. Ghini, Roma 7-8 maggio 2003, pp. 187-192, in part. pp. 188-189, nota 22.
  • M. Torelli, M. Menichetti, G. L. Grassigli, Arte e archeologia del mondo romano, Milano 2008, p. 105.
  • Scheda di catalogo 12/01008298, P. Moreno 1976; aggiornamento G. Ciccarello 2020