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Statue of Artemis of the Borghese type

Roman art

A life-size statue of Artemis, known as the Borghese type, because its iconography is not found in similar exemplars.

Although it is missing the goddess’s usual attributes (weaponry, the moon and the deer), the pose and clothing allow us to identify the figure as the young goddess dressed as a huntress. The arms, while modern, echo the original position and gesture of preparing to throw the dart. The treatment of the face and hair point to models from the fourth century BCE, reinterpreted in this imperial age copy, which was most likely carved in a neo-Attic workshop.

Object details

120-130 d.C.
Pentelic marble
altezza totale (con plinto) cm 164; statua cm 155; testa cm 22

Giustiniani Collection. Borghese Collection, documented in Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, no. 124. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • Restored as a Muse before it entered the Borghese Collection.
  • The front part of the left foot (attached to the modern plinth), the right foot and knee, most of the drapery on the left, the left forearm and the drapery covering it, the right arm, shoulder and upper part of the chest, a lock of hair near the right temple, the nose, the right eyebrow, the upper part of the head and the left lobe were all restored. The cheek and chin are chipped.
  • 1995 C.B.C. coop. a r.l.


An engraving of this and other sculptures, made by Giovan Battista De Rossi in 1641, confirms its provenance in the Giustiniani Collection with an inscription on the pedestal that reads in aedibus Iustinianeis (Rome, Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe S-FC282 vol. 26 F7; see Gasparri 1987, p. 265). Like the other statues of female figures shown in the engraving, works that also entered the Borghese Collection, this one was considered in the seventeenth century to represent a Muse, the globe the figure holds in her left hand in particular suggesting that she might be Urania. However, the subsequent restoration, which involved replacing the hands and adding the symbolic, allusive attributes of a bow and arrow, returned the figure to its original iconography, representing Artemis the huntress (EA 1925, p. 12, no. 2743 Lippold).

The Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese of 1833 lists a statue of Diana in one of the six niches in the sala nobile, known at the time as the Gallery of Emperors, next to a Venus Anadyomene, another statue of Diana (inv. CXXIX), two sculptures of Bacchus and a Muse (although the latter was actually an Artemis of the Dresden type, inv. CXXVI).

The youthful figure places her weight on her left leg, while the right is bent with the foot slightly raised. The right arm is lifted to the height of her shoulder and the forearm is raised up, while the upper left arm follows the line of the torso, and the left forearm is held outward. The head is tipped slightly, and figure’s gaze looks to the left, towards the bow, confirming the pose and original position of the arm. The appearance of movement would have been unquestionably less rigid in the original sculpture.

The clothing and iconography, which, as the restorer perfectly understood, present the figure as she is preparing to throw a dart, allow us to identify her as Artemis the huntress. The goddess is wearing a sleeved chiton, the fabric held tight over her arms with small buttons, and a peplos cinched beneath her breasts and fastened over her right shoulder with a circular fibula. The chiton and the peplos – which has a large fold called an apoptygma – stop at the knee. There is a voluminous himation, which was partly restored in antiquity, draped over her left shoulder and arm. The laced sandals are typical of depictions of Artemis, but in this case both feet are from the modern restoration. The sculpture is described as a ‘pedestrian statue of an extremely bizarre Diana wearing new clothes’ in a document listing objects entrusted to D’Este and Laboureur (ASV, AB, B. 1007, fasc. 301; Moreno, Sforzini 1987, p. 362). 

The soft, delicate features and shape of the head, with the hair parted in the middle and gathered in loose waves over the temples, point to the work of Polykleitos. The same stylistic milieu is suggested by the equilibrium, the chiastic pose, the rendering of the drapery and the elegant overall balance of forms. There are no other known replicas of this type (as significant for its iconography as for its material), which derived from a Greek original dating to the fourth century BCE that was reproduced in the imperial period in Attic workshops, which were expert in the use of Pentelic marble.

Clara di Fazio

  • A. Nibby, Monumenti scelti della Villa Borghese, Roma 1832, p. 91.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano della Villa Borghese, Roma 1840, p. 18, n. 18.
  • A. Nibby, Roma nell’anno 1838, Roma 1841, p. 919.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano della Villa Borghese, Roma 1854 (1873), p. 20, n. 18.
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 34.
  • G. Giusti, La Galerie Borghèse et la Ville Humbert Premier à Rome, Roma 1904, p. 27.
  • W. Helbig, Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rom, II, Leipzig 1913 (3a), p. 244.
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1954, p. 14.
  • R. Calza, Catalogo del Gabinetto fotografico Nazionale, Galleria Borghese, Collezione degli oggetti antichi, Roma 1957, p. 10, n. 56.
  • W. Helbig, Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rom, II, a cura di H. Speier, Tübingen 1966 (4a), p. 730, n. 1974.
  • P. Moreno, Formazione della raccolta di antichità del Museo e Galleria Borghese, in “Colloqui del Sodalizio” 5, 1975-1976, pp. 125-143, in part. p. 138.
  • M. Bieber, Ancient Copies. Contribution to the History of Greek and Roman Art, New York 1977, p. 72.
  • P. Moreno, Museo e Galleria Borghese, La collezione archeologica, Roma 1980, p. 16.
  • P. Moreno, S. Staccioli, Le collezioni della Galleria Borghese, Milano 1981, p. 100.
  • C. Gasparri, Su alcune vicende del collezionismo romano di antichità dal XVI al XVIII secolo: Este, Medici, Albani e altri, in “Scienze dell’antichità” 1, 1987, in part. p. 263-265.
  • 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, pp. 339-371; in part. p. 362.
  • P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 133, n. 8.
  • P. Moreno, A. Viacava, I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese. La collezione archeologica di Camillo e Francesco Borghese, Roma 2003, pp. 204-205, n. 185.
  • Scheda di catalogo 12/ 00147899 P. Moreno 1975, aggiornamento G. Ciccarello 2021