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Statue of an Ephebe as a Lamp Bearer is on long-term loan from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples

Getty also announces additional collaborations with the Naples museum

May 6, 2009


LOS ANGELES—Statue of an Ephebe as a Lamp Bearer, a long-term loan from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, is now on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa. The object, which was excavated from Pompeii in 1925, will remain on view at the Getty until March 2011.  The Getty has also begun conservation work on another object from Naples’ archaeological museum—a statue of the Apollo Saettante—that will go on view at the Getty Villa following conservation.

The Museo Archaeologico’s long-term loans of two splendid bronze treasures, the Ephebe (Youth) and the Apollo Saettante (Arrow-Shooting Apollo), complement the Getty Villa’s collection of ancient works from Greece, Rome, and Etruria.

In addition to these two loans, the Getty is also undertaking a series of exhibitions that will include material from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples. The first of these pieces will come as part of the recently announced Chimaera of Arezzo exhibition, which will open in July 2009 at the Getty Villa.

“On the heels of having announced a long-term collaboration with one of Italy’s greatest archaeological museums, the Museo Archeologico in Florence, I am pleased that we are now able to announce this partnership with one of Italy’s other great cultural institutions, the Museo Archeologico in Naples,” said Dr. Michael Brand, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum.  “Because the Museo Archeologico in Naples houses many of the objects unearthed from Pompeii and Herculaneum, its collection is especially relevant to the Getty Museum since the Getty Villa is designed to emulate the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman villa in ancient Herculaneum.” 

Dr. Brand continued, “I am especially pleased that this initial project with Naples involves having our conservators work on a sculpture that has not been able to be displayed because of its conservation needs.  In this way, we are able to lend our expertise and further the museum’s mission to share Italy’s rich cultural heritage with residents and tourists alike.”

In making this announcement, Dr. Brand also offered his appreciation to the Honorable Sandro Bondi, Minister of Culture of Italy; Dr. Stefano De Caro, Direttore Generale per i Beni Archeologici, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Roma; and Dr. Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, Soprintendente Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompeii.

The General Director of Archaeological Heritage, Stefano De Caro adds, "We are very thankful that the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Napoli e Pompei has offered to that "little Parnassus," the Getty, two such remarkable works from Pompeii, a generosity that further consolidates the excellent relationship established with the Museum in Los Angeles."

Statue of an Ephebe as a Lamp Bearer
Created about 20-10 B.C., the Roman bronze figure of an ephebe (youth) was excavated in 1925 in a well-appointed residence, now called the House of the Ephebe, off Pompeii's Via dell'Abbondanza. Referred to as the "Efebo Lampadoforo" (lamp-bearer), the figure holds ornate tendrils that served as candelabrum branches. At the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, the Ephebe was being stored together with other bronze furnishings in a central room off the atrium. The house was in the process of being refurbished, and the sculpture had been covered with a protective cloth, traces of which are still visible on the figure's shoulder and thigh. The Ephebe survived the volcanic cataclysm in an excellent state of preservation. Found with its right arm broken off and the candelabra detached, the Ephebe was restored in the mid-1990s at the Centro di Restauro in Florence—a treatment that revealed that the youth's lips and nipples were crafted in copper.  (Less fortunate were three individuals, perhaps workers engaged in the refurbishment project, whose skeletal remains and bedding were recovered in a front hall.)

The Apollo Saettante
A bronze statue of the god Apollo shown in the act of shooting an arrow (known as the "Apollo Saettante") was discovered in the western area of Pompeii, and has been associated with the Temple of Apollo. Dating back to at least the sixth century B.C., when the cult of Apollo was imported from Greece, the temple is the town's oldest and most important religious sanctuary. Together with a bust of Artemis drawing a bow that was found in the vicinity of the sanctuary, the Apollo Saettante likely derives from a group composition depicting the slaughter of the children of Niobe. The original base of the sculpture bears an inscription referring to the Roman general Lucius Mummius, who sacked the Greek city of Corinth in 146 B.C. and shipped a trove of statuary back to Rome. Archaeologists suggest that the bronze Apollo may have been a donation made by Mummius from the spoils of his military campaign. Due to the structural instability of previous restorations, the bronze Apollo has long been confined to the storerooms of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples.

The Apollo has come to the Getty Museum for a year-long re-stabilization project that will enable the statue to return to the public galleries in Naples. Following conservation treatment, an analysis of the object's structure, metal composition, and manufacturing technique will be undertaken. The sculpture will be installed on a seismic base isolator, developed by the Getty, to protect it from earthquake damage. The Apollo Saettante will then go on view at the Getty Villa through March 2011, in a display that investigates its history and identity as a noteworthy example of imported Greek sculpture in Pompeii.

About the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Following the fortuitous 1711 rediscovery of ancient Herculaneum, Charles of Bourbon, King of Naples and Sicily (r. 1734–59), initiated systematic archaeological explorations around the bay of Naples in 1738. Inscriptions found in 1763 positively identified the site of Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Ongoing for nearly three centuries, excavations have unearthed a time-capsule of Roman life in seaside resort towns and luxury villas, which were ornamented with frescoes, mosaics, and statuary.

Founded by Charles III of Spain in the mid 18th century, the National Archaeological Museum in Naples is home to outstanding works of ancient art and artifacts spanning the period from prehistory to late antiquity. Esteemed Roman marbles and gems from the Farnese Collection were combined with finds from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae in the former Museo Hercolanese to form the core of the Royal Bourbon Museum in 1777. Acquisitions of the Borgia, Picchianti, Santangelo, and Vivenzio collections further expanded the holdings of the museum, which was renamed the Museo Archeologico Nazionale following the unification of Italy in 1860. One of the most significant museums in Italy, it is also the repository for significant archaeological materials from the region. The collection is housed at Piazza Museo Nazionale, 19 in the 17th-century Palazzo degli Studi.

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Beth Brett
Getty Communications

Rebecca Taylor
Getty Communications

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