Until a few years ago, the Aura sculpture adorned one of the Pinecone Courtyard’s niches. Being set-up outdoors for so long began to compromise the marble’s surface. In order to avoid other preservative issues, the sculpture was transferred to a storage. Once it has been restored, the sculpture will be exhibited in the Gregorian Profane Museum (Niobide room); right next to two sculptures with an identical iconography, also depicting Aura, made out of Pentelic marble and dateable to the 1st century AD. In 1778, both were found during the excavations conducted in Palestrina, close to S. Agapito’s cathedral, in the area of the ancient city of Praeneste.
This feminine ﬁgure majestically walks with her left leg in front and the right one ﬂexed and back. A light Chiton falls to the woman’s ankles and adheres to her breasts and legs, contouring her curves. Meanwhile, a mantel is wrapped around the central part of her body. Originally, it was supposed to appear lifted above her head, blown by the wind. The statue represents the embodiment of sea breeze -a subject that was frequently used in ancient Greece to decorate temples, especially on the acroterion statues, which usually adorned the top of the pediments. It is assumed that it is precisely an acroterion ﬁgure which was held as a role model for our statue, along with other Roman replicas -of which the majority were made in Pentelic marble and can be dated back to the 1st century AD. However, the original prototype can be found in Greece and is most likely done by the hands of an Attic sculptor who, inﬂuenced by Fidia, operated in the ﬁnal decades of the 5th century BC. With regards to the sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Parthenon, the famous sculptor from Athens experimented innovative plastic solutions in order to render the movements of the draperies and the lightness of the clothing into the marble. The fabric wraps around the female curves and enhances them, almost as if it were wet. For the ﬁrst time in the history of ancient art, the female curves are shown with their realistic nature. The statue of Aura, even though it is a Roman replica of later centuries, witnesses the grand artistic and cultural period that occurred in Athens in the 5th century BC; right after the victory against the Persians, and especially during the governing of Pericles.
Restoration Process Includes:
- Scientific analysis and check of the inside structure of the statue
- Overall cleaning
- Removal of old restorations
- Replacing of iron nails with stainless-steel and carbon fiber elements where needed
- Photographic documentation of the state of preservation