PROPERTY OF THE TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE ACQUISITIONS FUND
When the ram was sold in Rome in 1911 at a sale by Jandolo and Tavazzi, it almost certainly came from the collection of Pasquale Janniello whose property made up the majority of the sale. Janniello was a dealer in ancient art from Naples. Ludwig Pollack mentions that he had his shop near the Piazza di Spagna in Rome (L. Pollack, Römische Memoiren: Künstler, Kunstliebhaber und Gelehrte 1893-1943, Rome, 1994, pp. 151-152).
For related ancient Roman marble figures of rams, see a ram carved with a figure of Odysseus below from the Villa Albani, now in the Torlonia Collection (P.E. Visconti, Catalogo del Museo Torlonia di sculture antiche, Rome, 1883, no. 438; http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/26838), an over lifesize figure of a recumbent ram, also from the Villa Albani and now in the Torlonia Collection (Visconti op. cit., no. 445), a ram with drapery gathered on its back in the Torlonia Collection (Visconti op. cit., no. 440), and another over-lifesize example, carved with a figure of Odysseus below, in the collection of the Villa Doria Pamphilj (R. Calza, Antichità di Villa Doria Pamphilj, Rome, 1977, p. 78, no. 83, pl. LV).
Margarete Bieber suggests that the present figure, also over-lifesize, once included a figure of Odysseus suspended beneath the belly of the animal, after the episode from the Odyssey in which Odysseus and his companions escape the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus by riding underneath sheep from the giant’s flock (op. cit., 1943, pp. 378 and 381). Although the present palm tree support is restored, there is no evidence of restoration on the body of the ram where the figure of Odysseus would have clung to the fleece, and in fact the carving of the belly indicates that it was originally carved with a similar support in antiquity from the same block of marble (Knudsen et al. op. cit., 234). It is conceivable, however, that the present figure was part of a mythological sculptural group depicting the Polyphemus episode.
The fleece of most comparable figures, which is carved in tiered and clustered curls, is much more stylized than this example's. The coat of the Capra Selvatica in the Sala degli Animali (inv. no. 521; A. González-Palacios, Il serraglio di pietra: La sala degli animali in Vaticano, Vatican City, 2013, no. 7) is rendered most similarly, with overlapping wavy curls over the body. This figure was restored with a naturalistically carved white marble base and verde antico socle by the Italian sculptor and restorer Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734-1818). Franzoni specialized in the restoration of ancient Roman animalia. He worked under Pope Clement XIV, but primarily under Pius VI, who greatly expanded the Vatican’s holdings, including the large group of animal sculptures exhibited in the Sala degli Animali at the Museo Pio-Clementino. The skill demonstrated in the restoration of the present figure is evident in the finely carved details and the marble fragments chosen to closely match the color, grain, and texture of the original figure. This high quality of workmanship and similarity to Franzoni's work on the sculpture in the Vatican collection suggests that his hand may also have been involved in the restoration of the present statue.
Isotopic analysis of the marble used for the ancient core of the ram, which was conducted in 2002 combined with visual inspection and art-historical analysis, ultimately identified the marble from the body of the ram as Parian, particularly Lychnites. Analysis of samples taken from the restored proper left front leg and proper left horn ruled out Italian quarries but were ultimately inconclusive (Knudsen et al. op. cit.); Bieber called the material “coarse island marble” (Bieber, op. cit., 1943, p. 380). Knudsen et al. conclude that the restorations were done by an Italian workshop before 1900, and likely even before 1800, with ancient marble fragments which had been imported from the Greek islands in antiquity.
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