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The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum: Life and Afterlife of a Sculpture Collection

  • Carol C. Mattusch

    The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum―buried during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, then rediscovered in 1750―contained a large collection of bronze and marble statuary and busts. Before they were published or exhibited, the sculptures were restored so as to appear whole, thereby helping to shape early modern tastes in classical sculpture.

    This book describes the nature of the ancient sculptures and their impact on the modern public. Their chance discovery affected the interpretation of the statues―their styles and subjects―over the course of the next 250 years. The ancient sculptures were copied extensively in reproductions of various sizes and patinas. The author traces the popularity of these copies in Europe and America.

    Also presented in the book is a technical study of the production techniques and materials of the sculptures, as well as of their modern restoration history. Scientific analyses and detailed photographs reveal both how the pieces were cast and pieced together in antiquity and how they were restored in the eighteenth century. Even though this collection has been known for two and a half centuries, this book covers for the first time the eclectic nature of the sculptures, their actual condition, and their quality, pointing in some cases to mass production.

    Carol C. Mattusch is Mathy Professor of Art History at George Mason University in Virginia.

    "Mattusch has done a great service in writing this book. She has taken a look at a group of sculptures. . . the result is an entirely new insight into their production and manufacture, and the correction of many earlier misapprehensions about them."
    —Ancient West and East

    416 pages
    9 x 12 inches
    220 color and 280 b/w illustrations
    3 maps
    ISBN 978-0-89236-722-1

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum