Relief of Porto Bas-relief with view of the Portus Augusti

A large ship with decorated sails, on which the mythical symbol of the she-wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus stands out; the scene of a sacrifice calling for the successful outcome of a voyage; the towering lighthouse that welcomes sailors inside the port, the divine figures of Neptune and Bacchus: these are just some of the elements that the bas-relief depicts with an extraordinary amount of details, making it one of the most famous works of the Torlonia Museum. The exceptional discovery of traces of polychromy, which emerged thanks to the meticulous restoration work carried out recently, testifies to the uniqueness of the relief, the marble surface of which was completely painted in ancient times. Found on the family estate at Porto, the work depicts a detailed and fascinating view of the Portus Augusti, construction of which was undertaken in 42 AD by Emperor Claudius in an attempt to address the serious supply problems that afflicted the Urbe. Inside the lively port scene, there are symbolic representations of good luck, among which an apotropaic eye, considered to have the power to protect sailors from the risks of navigation stands out, Neptune, god of the sea, and Bacchus/Liber Pater. It is to this last deity that the relief was probably dedicated: a votive offering for the safe return from a voyage.

Inventory: MT 430

Material: White marble

Technique: Work sculpted through the use of: chisels (also square-tipped and toothed) rasps

Dating: Imperial era

Origin: Porto