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User / DameBoudicca / Love and death in Rome
Rebecca B. / 5,354 items
ⓒRebecca Bugge, All Rights Reserved
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The sculpture up front is the Dying Gaul, and the couple at the window is Cupid and Psyche.

The dying Gaul is also known as 'The dying Galatian' - and before the motif was correctly identified, 'The dying Gladiator'. This Roman marble sculpture is likely a copy a Hellenistic bronze piece commissioned by Attalus I of Pergamon in the 3rd century B.C. (now lost). The exact place of discovery of this sculpture is not known - it might have been discovered in the early 17th century when Villa Ludovisi was being built, later a lot of other ancient sculptures were found in this area which covered the ancient Garden of Sallust. This piece was first officially recorded in 1623 in an inventory of the collections of the Ludovisi family. But before the middle of the 18th century it was added to the Capitoline collections where it is still a central feature. That this is a Celtic man (the Galatians were a Celtic tribe, as were the Gauls) is clearly seen on his torque (necklace) and hair-style. This was known to scholars since the mid-19th century but the older name (the dying gladiator) stuck into the 20th century.

Cupid and Psyche, a Roman marble copy from the first or second century A.D. of a Hellenistic original, was discovered on the Aventine Hill in 1749 and was given to the Capitoline Museums by Pope Benedict XIV. The story of Cupid (or Amor, or Eros) and Psyche has come down to us from Antiquity in text Metamorphoses by Apuleius (also known as The Golden Ass) - but they are known from Greek art since the 4th century B.C.

Both pieces were taken by Napoleon Bonaparte to Paris after the Treaty of Tolentino in 1787 - but they were returned after his fall from power.

The third piece is a sculpture of the goddess Flora from the Roman Imperial period - originally she is from Villa Adriana (emperor Hadrian's villa) near Tivoli, outside of Rome.
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  • Taken: Jul 10, 2016
  • Uploaded: Nov 12, 2016
  • Updated: Dec 24, 2020