Friday, October 12, 2012
Size Matters, the new Statue of Juno in Boston
The museum label proudly proclaims that this is the largest Classical sculpture in any museum in the US, standing 13 feet tall (I would guess with the head but they don't say, it currently has been taken off for conservation, and is displayed next to the body) and weighs 13,000 pounds. In fact the museum's label states that this is one of the largest sculptures found in Rome, which I found a little unbelievable. So I did a little research, looking up the Hercules Farnese, and the Flora Farnese, two of the largest Roman sculptures I know of. And indeed, the newly rediscovered Juno is larger than both of them. In person, all of this means little, the effect of this sculpture is monumental; Juno here is awesome, in the true meaning of the word. And it is as beautifully carved a Roman sculpture as exists, the quality of this sculpture is very high. The drapery is wonderfully carved with even the creases left where the robes had been folded for storage indicated. The forms of the body are quite evident under the garments, and Juno is here matronly, of large and impressive proportions, but not at all overweight, and gives the impression of great strength and substantiality. Given the history of this statue, it has been the ornament of gardens for centuries, it is remarkably well preserved.
The history of the sculpture is interesting, as it was recorded as being in the Villa Ludovisi in 1633, and somewhere around 1900 it was purchased by a wealthy Bostonian woman, Mary Pratt Sprague, and brought to her estate in Brooklyn known as Faulkner Farm, where it was featured in the garden. Despite being exposed to the elements for centuries, the sculpture is crisp and relatively well preserved. I am glad however that Juno is now safely inside a great museum where she can be seen by the public.
View of the back, which while not as well carved as the front as in antiquity it was intended to be seen from the front, it is still finished.