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Restoration of the Campana Bronzes

The Antiquities Department of the State Hermitage holds more than 100 pieces in bronze, acquired in the mid-nineteenth century from the Marquis Campana. Thanks to the generosity of the Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation, this restoration project has already been underwritten and work on the restoration is under way.

The Pieces:

These pieces are among the more than 100 bronze objects acquired from the Marquis Campana by the Antiquities Department of the State Hermitage. Dating back to pre-Roman times, these pieces are a unique part of the historic record of European civilization. The rest of the Marquis’ collection was purchased by the Louvre.

The History:

An avid antiquarian, the Marquis Campana financed and took part in numerous archeological digs throughout Italy and oversaw a number of workshops charged with the restoration of the objects he discovered. While undertaken with the best intentions, the fact is that 19th-century restoration techniques were less than adequate by modern standards. Pieces were reconstructed according to contemporary fashions, fragments from different eras were incorporated into the object resulting in strange anachronisms and entire works were often recreated out of a small authentic fragment.

Today, the collection suffers from corrosion of both original and restored materials. The items need to be analyzed, cataloged and compared with the Louvre’s holdings. When completed, the collection will become part of the permanent exhibition of pre-Roman Italy and the Etruscans, as well as incorporated into temporary exhibits on “Aromas of Antiquity” and the collection of the Marquis.