Roman Art Hercules and the Centaur Nessus
Uffizi Gallery, Inv. 1914, no. 77
I century AD
Fine-grained yellowish Greek marble
Height: m. 1.34; width: m. 1.10; depth: m. 1.20
Ancient part: height m. 1; depth m. 1.18
The group Hercules and the Centaur Nessus is the visual focus of the first corridor and represents one of the most remarkable examples of integration of ancient fragment attributable to Giovanni Caccini (1565-1613), celebrated Tuscan sculptor remembered for his activity in Palazzo Vecchio, the Church of Santo Spirito and the Boboli Garden.
The marble group, after an archetype datable to the III century BC, has been in the Gallery since 1597, where it arrived very much fragmented and in need of a restoration intervention that involved a near total reconstruction of the figure of Hercules: of this there remained only the feet and Caccini, showing a deep knowledge of the classical iconography, gave life to a figure of the Greek hero very much in tune with the ancient prototypes.
The sculpture has not undergone significant restoration interventions for the past forty years and there is no reliable mapping, nor a comprehensive photographic documentation. The restoration will give back full legibility and repair the ancient deteriorated fillings, besides solving some controversial issues regarding the original angle of the centaur’s arms. Petrographic investigations will also be carried out to identify the origin of the ancient marbles and restoration marbles.
On the whole, the restoration intervention is urgent from a conservative point of view, and is important for a better knowledge of and insight into a capital work in the history of the Renaissance rediscovery of classical sculpture, besides representing a tribute to such an important figure of Florentine sculpture after the centenary of his death in 2013.