3. Statue of Septimius Severus, with a veil on the head and a toga
End of second – beginning of third century AD
Boboli Gardens, Cypress Avenue, inv. Boboli no. 133
Fine-grained crystalline marble, probably from the Luni area
Height with base: 213 cm
The statue depicts Emperor Septimius Severus standing. The right arm is outstretched forward holding a scroll. The head with short curls is enframed in a flap of the toga. The feet wear mullei, characterized by a complex lacing system. The back is made with flat volumes and a simplified, rather schematic drapery that suggests an original placement of the sculpture in a niche.
The statue is the only one that depicts Emperor Septimius Severus wearing a toga and with a veil on the head. The portrait has been attributed to the period called “of the Adoption”, dating back to around 196 AD, when the Emperor declared himself Marcus Aurelius’ son.
State of conservation
The right arm, starting from the junction with the toga, the flap of the toga, and the backs of the drapery have been added in the Renaissance. The nose, the left hand from the wrist, which has no fingers, have also been restored during the Renaissance.The marble statue is placed on a marble base. Biological attack is evident in some points of the folds of the drapery, on the right forearm, on the part behind the figure, and the top of the base. The missing parts at the corners of the base favour the percolation of rainwater inside the structure, the stagnation of water, and the consequent proliferation of biodeteriogenic agents.
All the 5 fingers of the left hand of the statue are missing.
One fold of the low part of the drapery seems to have been recomposed by gluing various pieces and adding parts in stucco now yellowed.
The marble presents several minor cracks.
The statue comes from Palazzo Valle-Capranica, was then moved to the garden of Villa Medici on the Pincio hill in Rome, and finally placed in Florence, in the Boboli Garden, where it still lies in the Cypress Avenue.
Inghirami 1819, p. 87; Inghirami 1828, p. 107; Dütschke 1875, p. 41, n. 81; Bernoulli 1894, voll. II, p. 24, n. 37; EA 3429; McCann 1968, p. 151, n. 43, tav. 52; Soechting 1972, p. 152, n. 30; Gurrieri-Chatfield 1972, n. 55, fig. 116; Caneva 1982, p. 40, n. 32; Goette 1990 p. 138; Cecchi-Gasparri 2009, p. 254, n. 367.7
Drawings and engravings
Dosio, Berlino, Fol. 63 (Hülsen 1933, p. 30, n. 148b, tav. 83); J.-L. David. Album 2, fol. 3b, Stoccolma, MN 28/1969 (Bjurström 1986, n. 1395; Rosenberg, Prat 2002, p. 431, n. 492, con calco; “ala ville medicis”).
J. J. Bernoulli, Römische Ikonographie, Stuttgart 1882-1894
C. Caneva, Il Giardino di Boboli, Firenze 1982
A. Cecchi-C. Gasparri, La Villa Médicis. Le collezioni del cardinale Ferdinando. Dipinti e sculture, vol. IV, Roma 2009
H. Dütschke Antike Bildwelke in Oberitalien; II, Die antiken Marmorbildwerke in Florenz, Leipzig 1875
H. R. Goette, Studien zu römischen Togadarstellungen, Mainz a. Rh. 1990
F. Gurrieri-J. Chatfield, Boboli Gardens, Firenze 1972
F. Inghirami, Descrizione dell’Imp. E R. Palazzo Pitti di Firenze, Firenze 1819
F. Inghirami, L’imperiale e Reale Palazzo Pitti descritto, Fiesole 1828
A. M. McCann, The Portraits of Septimius Severus, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, XXX, Roma 1968
D. Soechting, Die Porträts des Septimius Severus, Bonn 1972
Description of required work
Testing and sampling sessions for cleaning, consolidation, plastering and protection operations.
Preliminary cleaning. Preliminary removal of inconsistent surface deposits.
Disinfesting treatment to remove autotrophic biodeteriogenic organisms (mosses, algae patinas and films, lichen growth), to eliminate the attacks visible on the surfaces or at deeper levels, and prevent their re-development. after reducing the thickness of the deposits with a fixed blade scalpel or brushes.
Surface cleaning with compresses supplemented with solvents and/or mild surfactants, deionized water, sponges and scalpels.
Treatment of oxidized metal parts, if necessary
Deep consolidation. Re-adhesion of small parts already detached or about to detach.
Supplementation of missing parts by repositioning retrieved fragments or by remaking the missing parts from scratch with a marble as similar as possible to the original.
Static control. Where necessary, structural consolidation.
Mechanical removal of old separated stucco work. Plastering and micro-plastering of cracks and micro-cracks, stucco filling and resting of raised flakes.
Chromatic revision of any imbalances with lime and natural earth pigments.
Final surface protection to be assessed beforehand and provided when the restoration has been completed.