Statue of an Old Centaur

Inv. Scu 658

The centaur is depicted entirely nude with the exception of a the nebris (deer skin) which hangs from his right shoulder.

On the sculptural support beneath his horse abdomen, two castanets (hand-held percussion instruments) are shown in low relief.

This sculpture of an aging centaur is a masterpiece of bronze in which the sculptor has captured the physicality of this mythical creature. This is most evident in the torsion of the centaur’s torso, which twists almost sensuously to the right, and the arching of its back. The centaur’s arms demonstrate movement and physicality through the strange and painful way he holds them behind his back.

The figure also turns his head and neck sharply to the right: he seems to be straining to see something behind him.

The piece was sculpted from a rare gray marble found in the quarries of the promontory of Capo Tenaro in Laconia. Scholars believe the sculpture to be a high-quality copy of an older bronze original.

On the plinth or base of each statue are the signatures of the artists who made them, Aristeas and Papias.

This statue was found together with the Statue of a Young Centaur (also present in this room) at Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli during the excavations led by Cardinal Furietti.

The work dates to the Hadrianic Period (117-138 A.D.).

They were purchased for the Capitoline Museums in the year 1765.