The myth of return: restoration as reception in eighteenth-century Rome

Hughes, Jessica
May 2011
Classical Receptions Journal;May2011, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
This article explores how themes and questions developed within the field of reception studies can be usefully applied to the study of the restoration of ancient sculpture. It focuses on a second-century AD statue which was restored at the very end of the eighteenth century by the Roman sculptor Giovanni Pierantoni and which is now in the collections of the Lady Lever gallery in Port Sunlight. This statue originally represented Antinous, but Pierantoni’s addition of a cup and jug turned the figure into Ganymede. Here I show how the restorer’s choices responded to contemporary trends in sculptural restoration, allegorical portraiture, and Catholic worshipper imagery; in particular, I argue that the myth of Zeus and Ganymede was newly configured to match a Christian model of interaction between mortal and divine.


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