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  • Lori-Ann Touchette

50 Fragments of Terracotta Sculptures Found

Circa 50 fragments of terracotta sculptures were found in the Domus Tiberiana on the Palatine hill. The six heads and a single figure reconstructed from the fragments are noteworthy for their exceptional quality. The eclecticism of their classicising style combining elements of several periods of Greek art from the early 5th through 4th centuries has led to their attribution to the Greek sculptor, and author of 5 volumes of “nobilia opera”, Pasiteles. Born in Magna Grecia and then made a Roman citizen, he transferred his studio to Rome in the 1st century BC. His style can be reconstructed best from the signed works of his students Stephanos and Menelaos. Pliny the Elder writes that Pasiteles “called modelling the mother of sculpture in metal and stone, and who, although he was preeminent in these arts, never made anything before he had made a clay model.” (Pliny, N.H. 35.156). In the same passage Pliny refers to Pasiteles’ contemporary Arkesilaos whose “proplasmata” sold at a higher price, even to artists, than the finished works of others. Although some scholars have identified the terracotta fragementary sculptures as maquettes (“proplasmata”) for a sculptor’s workshop, their discovery within the imperial palace rather points to Octavian/Augustus’ valorisation of terracotta to evoke “Romanness” here combined with citations of classical Greek style. Three of the four heads presented here have been identified as Apollo. The final image is of the marble Charioteer in the Musei Capitolini (n.b.: the connection with head no. 2). #romacittàdellaceramica #romeceramiccity #terracotta #ceramics #domustiberiana #pasiteles #museopalatino

@ Palatine Hill

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