Date: Adrian period, I-II Century AD
Dimensions: 195 cm
Materials: White Marble
Inventory Number: 907
Total Cost: € 72.735,00
Hermes was an Olympian god of Greek mythology, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia. Known as the messenger of the gods, he was quick and cunning and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine as an intercessor. He was protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, thieves, orators, literature, poets, athletes, sports, inventors, and tradesmen. Hermes was a notorious trickster and outwitted other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster and the tortoise, a satchel, winged sandals and a winged cap, yet his main symbol was the herald’s staff—the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus, which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff. In the Roman pantheon Hermes was named Mercury.
The origin and discovery of this Hermes statue is still not completely clear. Some documents state that the Hermes was found between 1540 and 1543 in the Vigna Pallini near Castel St. Angelo not far from the Vatican in the original mausoleum of Hadrian. The second theory of Pirro Ligorio was that it was found during the pontificate of Paul III (1534-1549) at St. Martino ai Monti.
In 1543, the statue was purchased by Paul III to decorate a niche in the Belvedere and around 1560 was heavily restored by Guglielmo Della Porta. For many years it was identified with the Antinous, the favorite Greek youth and member of the entourage of the Emperor Hadrian. The alleged Antinous was later recognized as Hermes. In this work, he is represented in a rather thoughtful stance, mantel thrown over his left shoulder and forearm folded, waiting to accompany the deceased in the afterlife. This wonderful statue of Hermes is a Roman copy of the original from the school of Praxiteles (late classical period, 4th cent. BC).
Years later, Poussin saw in it as an aesthetic canon of ideal proportions. Winckelmann recognized it as a statue “of the first class” and expressed much admiration for what he proclaimed “undoubtedly one of the most beautiful heads of a young man from Antiquity.” In 1683, Gérard Audran included it in his collection of engravings representing the Proportions of the Human Body Measured from the Most Beautiful Statues of Antiquity, meant for young sculptors. Oliver Cromwell acquired a bronze copy by Hubert Le Sueur that had previously been a part of the collection of Charles I of England. Other rulers, Louis XIV of France, and Peter the Great also had recreations of the Hermes. Copies of this work can also be found in art academies such as those of Milan and Berlin.
STATE OF PRESERVATION:
The restoration is particularly urgent. The statute needs a new stable support and the old glue used during the previous restoration must be replaced. The old glue is significantly damaging the statue and causing marble to detach.
RESTORATION PROCESS INCLUDES:
- - Scientific Research
- - Documentation with 3D laser scanner
- - Stratigraphic analysis
- - Cleaning and consolidation of the surface
- - Removal and replacement of iron nails with fibreglass, steal or new titanium materials
- - Diagnosis of state of the statue and pedestal
- - Possible recreation of the pedestal
- - Photographic documentation