The Function and Aesthetics of Supports in Greek and Roman Marble Statues

The project focuses on a neglected but crucial aspect of ancient marble sculpture: the functions and aesthetics of structural supports – i.e. designed masses of stone left in place to reinforce points of potential weakness in a statue. At odds with the modern ideas of beauty, completeness, and visual congruence, supports have generally been dismissed by scholars as mere securing appendages required by production and trade.

In addition (and in contrast) to this perspective, supports are here also investigated as hints to the tastes and expectations of those who commissioned, bought, and set up marble sculptures throughout the Mediterranean in Hellenistic and Roman times. Drawing on the analysis of artworks from the Graeco-Roman world (with parallels from later periods of Western art), as well as on the Greek and Latin literary sources, the research engages with the modern theories of visual culture and contributes to the larger debate about the visual traditions of Roman culture and the reception of Greek art.

Dr. A. Anguissola