Standing Tall – The Intricately Inscribed Marble Base

A few weeks ago we mentioned the completion of restorations on a Statue of the Dacian Prince from the Trajan Forum in 113 A.D.  While restorations on the prince are completed, restorers now begin work on the marvelous base with which that sculpture has been associated. Though the prince is spectacular, the base is also stunning and historically intriguing, with an intricate inscription that requires careful cleaning and attention from our restorers. Now, thanks to the support of the Junior Illinois Patrons, this integral project has begun.

On March 18, the Junior Patrons (made up of members under 35 years old) hosted their second annual “Illinois Associates Night Out” which included an unveiling, and engaging discussion about their excitement for the good works ahead involving the marble base.  The base was actually not originally created for the Dacian Prince – it was made in the 5th century and the inscription reads that it once supported a statue of Acilius Glabrio Sibidius who had important government roles in Greece, Campania and west Gallia. However, this base and the Dacian prince have been connected for centuries. 

The pieces are usually housed in the Chiaramonti gallery, however it is important for us to maintain the vision and verisimilitude of this space, crafted by famed Antonio Canova who constructed it in the 19th century. Therefore, prince and base will only come on display when restorations are fully complete on corresponding pieces of similar construction so that the full experience is recreated.

Are you under 35 and want to get involved? Junior membership is designed especially for you and includes the same rewards as full members at a reduced rate. It’s easy to become a patron (particularly a Junior Patron) and the perks are amazing! Click here for more information.

Don’t miss your chance to win with the Patron’s Junior Membership GIVEAWAY – More details here.

{See this striking video for more information on the base and the history of the Chiaramonti on Vimeo}

5th Century Marble Base, Illinois Junior Patrons from Vatican Patrons of the Arts on Vimeo.

If you would like to know more about this project and the others associated with the Chiaramonti go to our Wishbook.

This Dashing Dacian Prince has Been Fully Restored!

With work beginning in 2012, we are happy to say that this colossal statue of a defeated prince has been fully restored and is ready for display. The statue was part of a decorative scheme used to adorn the great Trajan Forum inaugurated by the Emperor in 113 AD. The impressive piece depicts a Dace prince dressed in a long tunic – arms crossed in front of his body in a attitude associated with prisoners. The sculpture is made of pavonazzetto – a white marble extracted from purple veins in the quarries of ancient Phrygia, in the heart of Turkey.  These pavonazzetto sculptures were larger than those in white marble, thus they were possibly placed on the top of the decorated arcade.

How do you restore a prince?

A Deep Wash:

The process of restoration was extensive and took meticulous effort. Primarily, cleaning of surface deposits were accomplished using  compresses of deionized water. This brought out the real sheen of the purple veined marble.

Keeping his integrity – with lasers!:

During the restoration, a light coating applied in ancient times was discovered that probably balanced the stone material’s integration. Restorers Dr. Giandomenico Spinola and Dr. Claudia Valeri decided to respect this and with laser cleaning were able to approximate the original look of the statue.

No such thing as a small surgery:

Parts of the piece had to be dismantled in order to finish the job. A steel pin from the 1800s that held part of the cloak in place was replaced and his nose had to be removed to care for the wax-resin that had anchored it in ancient times.

Finally the fingers:

In the end, the original parts of the fingers were repositioned and adhered with plaster colored to match the statue using watercolors.

Though not yet on display because of finishing touches on the pedestal – prepare to see the Dacian Prince in all his glorious defeat very soon in the halls of the museum.

Before Restoration

Before Restoration


During Restoration

After Restoration

After Restoration