The meticulous care and admirable persistence with which the debris of On the Wild Boar were restored after the 1762 fire testify to the renown then enjoyed by the sculpture. Part of the array in the Room of Niches at Palazzo Pitti, where Vasari saw it in 1568, the statue reached the Gallery towards the end of the XVI Century where it was displayed together with the sculpture of a “peasant in the act of wounding it” that, according to the information handed down by Pirro Ligorio, had been discovered with the Boar among the ruins of a building on the slopes of the Esquiline. Nothing remains to prove that the sculpture of the hunter, given by Pope Pius IV to Cosimo I in 1560 together with On the Wild Boar and the two Molossian Hounds now in the Vestibule, formed part of a same group. The loss of the “peasant”, destroyed in the fire that so havocked On the Wild Boar, makes this hypothesis unproven, even if it seems plausible to imagine that the wild beast might have been conceived to be part of a complex hunting scene. Such being the case, it comes natural to conjure up one of the myths most frequently represented in Greek and Roman art: the killing of the the Calydonian boar, sent by Artemis to punish King Oeneus of Kalydon, at the hands of the king’s son Meleager.
The animal, maybe captured in the instant of its smelling the hunter’s approach, is represented in such naturalistic detail as to presuppose a careful live study; the uncommon meticulousness with which some not overtly visible details are rendered, such as the teeth or the ear tufts, might hint at the existence of a bronze Hellenistic archetype (end of III-II Century B.C.) of which the Florentine sculpture would be a replica of rare quality and faithfulness, traceable to the early Imperial period. The restoration, with an accurate cleaning of the surface, has evidenced numerous parallel fractures and integrations of varying size, mostly attributable to the serious damage suffered during the 1762 fire. The cleaning has also freed the surface of the many layers of oxidized wax that dulled it impairing its legibility, while finding an ancient patina in direct contact with the marble. The irregular, chaotic net of fractures that disrupted the surface continuity has been painstakingly puttied and then retouched in imitation of the original chromatic hue.