Late Antique and Renaissance
4th century and mid-16th century
Object Place: Europe, Florence, Italy
57.15 cm (22 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Calcite crystal, calcite marble and gilt bronze
Italian Renaissance Gallery (Gallery 206)
Body of calcite crystal 4th century; lower portion and base is veined calcite marble, with head and hands of gilt-bronze, about 1550, applied in Florence or Rome. Standing figure, glancing to right; arms extended; holds scroll in left hand; drapery carved front and sides in sweeping vertical and diagonal folds, almost smooth in back but for natural markings. Calcite crystal in shades of green and slightly beige with milky tones; Marble taupe color with paler markings. Round base.
This object embodies the importance of Italy’s ancient past as a spur to Renaissance artists and patrons. The starting point was a fragment of an ancient draped torso, made of calcite crystal. In a collaboration across time, an unknown sixteenth-century master completed the figure by adding a lower body and base of marble, and gilt bronze head and hands to make a statuette of the ancient Roman Emperor Hadrian. A precious relic of the past, the ancient torso inspired the creative vision of the modern artist.
By 1972, consigned by Paolo Rosa, Rome, to Heim Gallery, London; 1972, sold by Heim to the MFA [see note 1]. (Accession Date: May 10, 1972)
 According to Andrew S. Ciechanowiecki of Heim Gallery at the time of acquisition, the sculpture “came from Austria and possibly previously from southern Germany.”
Gift of the Class of the Museum of Fine Arts, Mrs. Charles Devens, Chairman