Statue of Rutilia Mater and Statue of Rutilia Avia

Inventory Numbers: 1695, 1696

Foto digitale


Inventory Numbers: 1699, 1700

Foto digitale


These two female statues were discovered at Tusculum in the Albani hills during the excavations of Luciano Bonaparte (1809). They were sold a few years later to Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti. Bonaparte’s excavations brought a number of marble structures to light. He unearthed the theater and the piazza of the forum, allowing scholars to definitively identify this place as the city of Tusculum, which was often noted by ancient literary sources. The famous Latin orator Cicero mentioned a villa named Tusculanum,  one of his residences which he particulary cherished.

As stated on the inscriptions carved on the plinth, the statues represent Rutilia mater, the daughter of Lucio, and Rutilia avia, daughter of Publio. These sculptures, both made from marble, are dated back to the Augustan age. It is likely that they were a part of a larger series that was mounted in an important public space to honor the gens Rutilia, a prominent Tuscolan family of the first imperial age. As often occurred in Italian towns and municipalities, the Augusto-Tiberian age brought to Tusculum new styles and decorative techniques for building public monuments, such as the theater and the buildings. These new buildings were used by the royal family and eminent local gentes to perpetuate their propaganda and self-glorifying messages. Alongside the depictions of the Rutiliae were also statues of the male representatives of the family, likely flanking statues dedicated to the principal members of the imperial family of Augustus.

Since their arrival at the Chiaramonti Museum (1821), the two statues have been displayed as we see them now. The funerary altar is dedicated by Caius Vettius Zoticus to his beloved wife Vettia Pharia. The inscription is framed by grooved colonnades, atop which sit Ionic capitals. Above the tablet that holds the epigraph, two ram heads face  each other and, at the center, stands a gorgoneion. On the sides are the common symbols of libation: on the left, a little pitcher (urceus) and at the right, a patera. The altar, which dates to the beginning of the 2nd Century AD, was recorded in the Giustiniani collection in 1635 after having been donated by Antonio Canova to Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti.

The statue of Rutilia avia stands on a molded base from the Imperial Age. It bears an inscription which indicates that it is dedicated to Hercules. The base was in the Giustiniani collection and  was donated to the pope by Antonio Canova at the beginning of the 19th Century. These two pieces are expected to return on display in the Chiaramonti Gallery.