Statue of Personified Phrygia


About this object

Statue of a draped female, usually identified as a personification of the province of Phrygia or possibly another province of the Roman Empire. The figure stands in a heavy pose with both feet remaining planted on the plinth, the arms are also static: the right hand hangs on the side and the left rests on a round object which sits on a vertical slab. She wears a mantle, ( military cloak or sagum ) over a chiton that is belted under her breasts. The cloak is secured with a round brooch. Both the mantlle and the chiton hang below the knees and fall in broad folds that suggest a heavy fabric. On her feet she wears a closed shoe with a thick sole and long tongue over the instep, the double laces wrap around the calf, well above the ankles. She has on her head a tall mural crown, below which there is a diadem with incised decoration suggesting twisted metal. Her hair is in long thick tresses that fall symmetrically from a centre part. Longer locks hang to either side of the neck.
The torso has been completed with various ancient and modern parts, many of the ancient parts did no originally belonged to the same statue. The statue was broken at the calves and the feet but the reattached pieces all belonged. The granular surface of the marble may be the result of chemical treatment. At least two restorations were made to the statue, in the 16th century the head and the feet were added. In the 18th century she held a tall bronze vexillum in her right hand but it was replaced with something difficult to identify. The woman was known in the 16th century context of the as Cybele because of the tympanum and the mural crown

The figure is shown with the attributes of the godess Cybele: the turreted crown representing the foundation of cities, and the tympanum (drum) under her left hand, although there is no known parallel of the costume the statue is wearing from antiquity . Elizabeth Bartman noted that the tympanum could be a reference to the homeland of the figure; Cybele came from Phrygia and therefore a personification of either Phrygia or Galatia or Bithynia is plausible although there does not seem to be a clear close parallel to a Roman provincial representation for the statue. The figure is idealised and expresses the loyality of a province to the Roman Empire. It is one of many figures celebrating the geography of the Empire.

The draped torso has been completed with ancient and modern parts. The head and with the mural crown and the neck, most of the draped body, the lower legs and feet and part of the tympanum are ancient but probably did not belong to the same statue. The head and the feet were probably added in the 16th century. The strut and the plinth were also put together by different pieces. Many of the joins have been filled with white stucco but Elizabeth Bartman notes that it is unclear when this happened. Yellow resin from the 18th century can be detected on the neck. The granular surface of the statue may reflect chemical treatment. In her right hand the figure is currently holding non descriptive staff but in the 18th century she was holding a tall bronze vexillum, typically carried by Roman troops. This was probably added by the restorer Lisandroni in order to create the personification of the province. Bartman believed that Lisandoni' s decision to restore the statue as the personification of a province rather than a city may had been because of the influence of the Capitoline's Hadrianic frieze, which included province personifications. Such a restoration would also have been made the piece more appealing to the 18th century informed clientele.

The statue certain origin is from the Villa d'Este, displayed in the Loggia at the west end of the Villa and although Blundell mentioned that he bought it from the villa's owner, Ferdinando Lisandroni was the dealer.
The metal standard shown in Blundell's 'Engravings' is kept with the statue.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    2nd Century AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    2240 x 935 kg
  • Note
    Ashmole's account noted that it was: ' exported after long negotiations and at great expense through the mediation of the sculptor Lisandroni in 1789 '. Elizabeth Bartman: the rarity of the a three dimensional personification of a province had caused a dispute between the papal authorities and the restorer Lisandroni who seeked an export. Lisandroni reported in his papal petition that he added the head. The restoration as a province rather than a city may had been the work of Lisandroni who wished to make the statue more attractive to the 18th century market. Lisandroni also referred to the personification of Capitoline's Hadrianic frieze of personified provinces. The figure held a tall vexillum in 18th century and this is kept in the stores.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Francesco d'Este ( Previous owner); Ippolito d'Este ( Previous owner); Ferdinando Lisandroni ( Associated Person); Vincenzo Pacetti ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

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Previous owners

  • Joseph William Col Sir Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: By descent
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
  • Vincenzo Pacetti

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Francesco d'Este

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Ippolito d'Este

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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