Among the numerous replica statues of the Asclepius Giustini type, derived from a Late Classical archetype dating back to the end of the V Century A.D., this Uffizi sculpture stands out for its excellent state of preservation. In fact, post-ancient restorations were limited to integrating part of the rod with the serpent, portions of the beard, of the drapery and the front of the right foot.
Along with its enormous importance for the “philological” reconstruction of the lost Greek original, the sculpture also has a complex history, having probably belonged to the founding nucleus of the Medicean collections and remained, until the late XVIII Century, in the Medicean Roman residence on the Pincian Hill. This long outdoor exposure in the garden of Villa Medici might have been the cause of the surface deterioration well exposed by the recent excellent restoration carried out by Louis D. Pierelli and Gabriella Tonini. Through a gradual interventions, primarily aimed at maintaining a chromatic balance between the various parts of the sculpture, crusts and dust deposits were removed, using instruments and methods suitable to the different preservation state of the surface. The more superficial layers of dirt were removed with surfactant-soaked compresses while, for the more stubborn deposits, laser-cleaning was employed to eliminate also the infiltrations in the pores of the marble. Operations were carried out without interfering with the original hue and natural patina of the marble, and resulted in restoring full legibility to a sculpture that stands out not only for its completeness but also for its closeness to the formal and stylistic models of the Classical period. The wide and luminous surfaces of the drapery and the facial features, especially the nearly metallic outline of lips and eyebrows, indicate the direct derivation from a bronze model. The finely chiselled hair, that only now can be fully appreciated, confirm the high-quality workmanship of this roman replica, that was most probably made directly on a cast of the original. This very accuracy would lead to date the statue to a rather ancient period, certainly not subsequent to the I Century A.D. The accurate documentation of M. Brunori’s photographs, besides allowing to map the sculpture, will help any future in-depth study of this important example of the proto-imperial Roman workshops.