Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
In 2018, Aurélia Azéma, a doctoral student in Paris, observed something peculiar about a massive bronze toe held in the collection of the Louvre Museum: namely, that it was not a toe but an index finger. And not just any finger, she argued, but that of a colossal, early 4th-century statue of Roman emperor Constantine held in fragments at the Capitoline Museums in Rome.
After 500 years, and thanks to Azéma’s research, Constantine’s left hand has now been restored to its five-finger glory in a collaboration between the two institutions.
The bronze digit, part of a trove of ancient Greek and Roman art amassed by collector Marquis Giampietro Campana and acquired by the Louvre in the 1860s, had long been classified as a toe by the museum’s experts. Louvre archaeologist Nicolas Melard created a 3D model of the piece that was then taken to Rome by curators Françoise Gaultier and Sophie Descamps to confirm Azéma’s hunch.
The recomposed hand is now on view at the Palazzo dei Conservatori Museum along with the other remain parts of the originally 39-foot-statue, including a giant bust of the emperor’s, his left forearm, and a sphere once held in his palm.
In a Facebook post, Rome mayor Virginia Raggi celebrated the restitution, noting that it comes on the 550th anniversary of Pope Sixtus IV’s donation of core works that led to the creation of the Capitolini Museums, the oldest public collection of art in the world.
“Culture has no boundaries and I’m very happy that Romans and tourists will be able to admire and learn this incredible story,” she added.
As the old saying goes: If the finger fits, please return it to its respective brutal Roman emperor.
Correction 5/10/2021 6:30pm EST: An earlier version of this article misstated that the statue was created in the 14th century.
Poussin and the Dance is a valiant attempt to break into Poussin’s staunchly academic oeuvre and provide a relatable point of entry, highlighting the exciting elements of revelry and movement despite impenetrable and unemotional rendering.
Anarchist illustrator N.O. Bonzo produces decentralized media in a highly bureaucratic cultural landscape. Their illustrations, murals, and literature emerge in unexpected places, from the streets of Portland, Oregon, to the far ends of Reddit and Twitter, addressing relations of labor and identity in the workplace and on the streets. Growth and care are central themes…
This exhibition explores how images of the human body were used to provoke profound physical and emotional responses in viewers from the 15th through 18th centuries.
With scavenged materials, Amanda Maciel Antunes constructs a motherland.
Where are the directors taking the stage to acknowledge workers’ demands today?
The collaborative handmade paper- and printmaking center at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts publishes new works by Liz Collins and Sarah McEneaney.
There is a debate whether the memory of Little Syria should be seized upon to tell truthful and positive stories about Arabs in the US, or whether any conflation between its history and contemporary politics is inappropriate.
The profile includes works by Egon Schiele, Amedeo Modigliani, Peter Paul Rubens, and a prehistoric Venus of Willendorf figurine.
These horrifying dolls definitely won’t murder you in your sleep.