The Torlonia Nile, Formerly Barberini – Albani

The Torlonia Nile, Formerly Barberini – Albani

In the Forum of Peace, a magnificent sanctuary dedicated to Peace by Emperor Vespasian, there was an imposing work inspired by the Alexandrian statuary of the Hellenistic age which depicted the Nile: the river of the land of Egypt venerated in ancient times as a deity for its beneficial and regenerating power.

The sculpture that adorned the Forum was the object of numerous replicas, among which that of the Torlonia Nile (formerly Barberini-Albani) stands out.

The small crocodile with its wide open jaws and the sphinx that flank the virile figure evoke the Egyptian realm with great immediacy. The river divinity is represented as an elderly man, semi-distant and only partially covered by a himation, bearing one of its characteristic attributes, i.e. a horn full of fruits and flowers: the cornucopia, or in Latin ‘horn of abundance’, a symbol of great prosperity and fertility.

Inventory: MT 427

Material: Coloured marble

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

Dating: Imperial era