New Restoration Project 2024

The Board of Directors of the Washington DC Chapter is proud to announce the adoption of a new project for 2024:


Artist: Unknown
Date: 140-60 A.D.
Dimensions: 67 cm h
Materials: White marble
Inventory Number: 255

The portrait depicts Faustina Major (the Elder), who married Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161 A.D.). In 138 A.D. Faustina received the title of Augusta in 138 A.D. and was deified soon after she died in 141 A.D. The Vatican specimen is one of the best portraits of the empress, which was also used for postmortem depictions.
During the excavations conducted by Gavin Hamilton in the locality known as Pantanello, the head was discovered in 1769 in an area located near the Greek Theater of the Grand Villa Adriana where, probably as early as late antiquity, marbles of the villa’s sculptural furnishings had accumulated.
An effigy of Faustina must have decorated one of the rooms of Villa Adriana, testifying to the constant attendance of the imperial family in the residence during the 2nd century A.D. In 1776, the artifact was sold to Pius VI and mounted on a bust executed by the papal restorer Giovanni Pierantoni. The sculpture was displayed in the Sala Rotonda in the Vatican Museums, where it is seen today.

State of Preservation

The sculpture appears opaque and darkened due to the presence of consistent deposits. There are areas with various stains and inhomogeneities on the surface of the head (of ancient workmanship) and the bust (of modern age). There are also cracks, fractures, and small and medium-sized lacunae.

Restoration Procedures

  • Structural verification of the bond between the torso and head
  • Dry removal of incoherent surface deposits with specific micro vacuum cleaners and paint brushes
  • A cleaning plan will be determined after the analytical testing
  • Integrate the stucco and micro stucco work with suitable materials compatible with the original
  • Perform localized chromatic balancing to restore harmony for reading the work
  • A final application of a protective coat will complete the restoration

Posted on May 19, 2024