[lit-ideas] Venus -- Art & Science come together

  • From: JimKandJulieB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 07:04:10 EST

_Click  here: Conservators X-ray Roman statue of Venus - Yahoo! News_ 

Conservators X-ray Roman statue of Venus 

By GIOVANNA DELL'ORTO, Associated Press WriterFri Nov 3, 11:12  AM ET  

Conservators trying to restore a 1,900-year-old statue of Venus have put  
their heads together with airline maintenance inspectors who usually scrutinize 
welds and repairs in jet engines for any cracks. 
Officials at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University this summer  
bought the Roman marble statue and its head, which had broken off sometime in  
the past 170 years. 
On Thursday, they enlisted the help of Delta Air Lines inspectors at  
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, who took X-rays of the statue 
the head to try to determine where the statue has been broken before and how  
old repairs are holding up. 
Conservators will look for rusting metal pins that might have been inserted  
to fix cracks. Once they establish the condition of those repairs, which could 
 date from antiquity to as recently as 200 years ago, they will know how best 
to  put the 4-foot-6-inch statue back together. 
"I spend two-thirds of my time reversing other people's good intentions,"  
museum conservator Renee Stein said jokingly of old repairs. 
The statue, by an unknown artist, is a copy of a Greek bronze sculpture that  
many scholars say is the most widely reproduced female statue in antiquity.  
While there are thousands of similar images of Venus in all sorts of sizes and 
 materials, this restoration is significant because few statues are as large 
and  nearly intact as this one, missing only the right arm. 
"When statue pieces go down different roads, and they're recognized, bought,  
and put back together, it's extremely noteworthy," said Francesco de Angelis, 
a  professor of Roman art at Columbia University. "This type of statue was  
incredibly popular in antiquity." 
The museum bought the charmingly prudish sculpture of the goddess of love for 
 $968,000 at a Sotheby's auction in New York on June 6. A private collector 
in  Houston, Texas, agreed to sell the head to the buyer of the body, and the 
museum  purchased it for about $50,000. 
Delta inspectors, who have previously worked with the museum on a vase and a  
statue, volunteered their time for the Venus. 
"It's a privilege for us to assist and help the Carlos bring this kind of  
history and art to our hometown of Atlanta," said Delta spokeswoman Gina  
The statue portrays Venus — called Aphrodite by the Greeks — caught off 
guard  as she, having removed all her clothes to take a bath, glimpses an 
onlooker. She tries to cover herself with her hands, with a result that's more 
 provocative than protective. A small figure of Eros rides a dolphin at her 
feet,  a reference to the goddess' birth from the sea. 
The statue probably stood next to a fountain or pool in the gardens of a  
villa somewhere in the Roman Empire, possibly in today's France. It was first  
documented in the collection of Napoleon's art adviser in the 1830s, said 
 Gaunt, curator of Greek and Roman art at the Carlos. 
An 1836 engraving showed the statue intact, and it is not known how or when  
the head and arm broke off. The arm remains missing. 
Stein will have to drill through the plaster keeping in place an old pin that 
 was inserted in the head to prop it up on a display stand, as well as a lead 
 insert on the base of the neck. She'll most likely replace it with a 
stainless  steel pin. 
Because the jagged edges in the break between the head and the neck were  
smoothed over, curators will have to study how much space to fill in once the  
pieces are superimposed again. 
Venus is expected to strike her pose at the Carlos sometime in the  spring. 

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