The sculpture of the Cane Molosso statue (Mastiff Dog) is located in the Octagonal Courtyard and it is a very famous work dating back to the first century A.D. In 2016, a curious visitor broke this sculpture, inserting his hand inside the mouth, causing very serious damage to the jaw. The detached jaw piece then fractured in the fall.
The sculpture, acquired by the Vatican Collections in 1770 and integrated by Gaspare Sibila in 1779, was subject to a complete restoration beginning with a double phase cleaning with chemicals and laser. Through these techniques, the restorer, Anna Lea Mattozzi, freed the stone surface from layers of powders (mixed with altered protective materials) and anthropogenic deposits.
Subsequently, the innovative systems proposed by Ulderico Santamaria (responsible for the Scientific Research Laboratory) were used to consolidate the fragments. Afterwards, the fragments were reconstructed, and the jaw was reattached to the work.In the course of the restoration, restorers also found some coins inside the mouth that allowed them to understand the meddling visitor’s actions. Currently Giandomenico Spinola and Claudia Valeri are analyzing a protection system for this sculpture in order to prevent other curious visitors from causing further damage. The Mastiff Dog will return to the courtyard shortly as soon as its protection is secured.