Ancient statues emerge from the shadows in blockbuster Rome show
By Crispian Balmer
ROM (Reuters) - After decades in a basement, some of the most beautiful sculptures of antiquity have been pulled out of the darkness and made public again in Rome.
Busts of Roman emperors, intricate sarcophagi, and an ancient Greek relief carved 2,500 years ago are just some of the 92 pieces on display in the city's Palazzo Caffarelli.
The marbles belong to the aristocratic Torlonia family and represent a fraction of their 620 sculptures that are believed to be the largest such private collection in the world.
"We could do seven, eight, 15 more exhibitions," said art historian Salvatore Settis, who was chosen by the family to curate the exhibition and had the difficult task of deciding which works should see the light of day.
Like many leading families in Rome, the Torlonias first exhibited their huge collection in a museum. After 101 years, they locked their doors in 1976 and tried to convert the building into private apartments.
"The reappearance of such a legendary collection is a very important event," said Settis. "When I first saw her it was very emotional because I knew most of these pieces from books, but I had never seen them."
The Torlonias, who built their fortune from papal treaties, gathered established collections, some of which date back to the 15th century, and built a collection of collections.
Among the pieces on display is a fountain basin carved in Ancient Greece, which was believed to have stood in Julius Caesar's garden when it was already considered ancient.
Many of the works have been extensively restored over the years, including a goat statue whose body dates back to the first century AD, but whose head is believed to have been created by the famous 17th-century Italian sculptor Bernini.
Anna Maria Carruba helped prepare the statues for the exhibition.
“Many of these pieces were restored from as early as 1600. We didn't have to work on the structure of the statues, just on the surfaces, cleaning them, removing the dust that had built up over the years and the materials that were used in previous restorations were used. "She said.
The "Torlonia Marbles" show was supposed to open in April but has been pushed back due to the coronavirus. It runs in Rome until June 2021 and is expected to move to at least one other European country and the US before returning to Italy, where it will have a permanent home.
(Adaptation by Andrew Heavens)
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