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Piazza Arringo, 28 - 63100 Ascoli Piceno
+39 0736 253562
Piazza Arringo, 28 - 63100 Ascoli Piceno

The daily life


A glimpse of daily life narrated through everyday objects, such us tableware, bronze or terracotta lamps to illuminate the night, large containers such as amphorae and dolia to contain food and transport it, a scale with basalt counterweights next to it, and weaving and spinning equipment.  Nonetheless, existence is also made up of higher passions. The styli and tablets here displayed, and they were used to draft thoughts before perhaps fixing them on papyrus sheets or a scroll of parchment.  Hair pins, perfume containers, and splendid necklaces are displayed, and remind of Oscar Wilde’s famous quote “We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities”. Dice, pawns, and astragali remind to try your luck instead. 
At the centre of the room, three sculptures stand out, which were most likely destined for a domus as furnishings. They are an Aphrodite getting ready for a bath, a very young Dionysus dressed only in goatskin and a very seductive Nike that rises from a cornucopia.

Masterpieces

Neo-Attic slab with procession of the Seasons

Unknown provenance White marble 1st century AD

The thin marble panel was part of a monument whose original destination is difficult to guess today. Two female figures appear advancing to the right, and hold items that make them identifiable as the personifications of Winter and Spring. The two figures are dressed in warm clothes to face extreme climate, and carrying game (ducks, hares and a wild boar); Winter advances first, followed by her partner who wears lighter clothes, more suited to the mildness of the spring climate, such as fresh food and the little kid he carries with him. There is a small portion of a certainly larger frieze, which also included Summer and Autumn, and perhaps included in a more complex story that was probably linked to the representation of the wedding of Peleus and Teti, parents of the heroic Achilles. An identical representation of the two characters appears on the famous Albani sarcophagus in the Vatican Museums, which preserves the entire scene. The funerary destination of the Ascoli frieze seems less likely due to the reduced thickness of the marble slab and the particular processing of the rear face. Moreover, the reference to the sarcophagus offers us precious information on the neo-Attic influence of the relief. Its fine design is extraordinarily thanks to elements such as the swaying robes, which is driven by the girls gait, the bodies that shine through the fabrics, and the animals rendered with lively naturalism. It was probably made in a workshop in Rome, perhaps back in the early imperial period.

Statue of Aphrodite undoing her sandal

From Ascoli Piceno Marble 2nd-1st century BC

This is a smaller figure compared to standard size, and we can well imagine it as furniture in the rooms of an urban villa similar to those discovered nearby, excavated under the Palazzo di Giustizia. It must have adorned a rich domus, or perhaps a public building or a temple. The small statuette represents the goddess Aphrodite, captured in the intimacy of the simple, very human gesture of undoing her sandal while she prepares for a bath. This activity was a common one, but the complex rhythm of each move is considered. It opposes the right arm extended and lowered towards the foot, the left leg bent at the knee and raised, the face slightly lowered to follow the action and the left arm open outside on a support pillar, today lost. The marble with its large crystalline grain, and the iconographic scheme of the statuette in particular, which is comparable with works made by Delos workers, seems to authorise the attribution of the work to workshops from the island. The statuette was commissioned by a wealthy client, or perhaps it was part of spoils of war. It replicates the most beloved of the representations of the attractive goddess of love and beauty.

Trapezophorus

From Falerone (FM) Marble late 1st – early 2nd century AD

The term trapezophorus literally indicates the support for a table. The use of supports decorated with figurative designs began with the Hellenistic period and continued in the Roman world thanks to frequent contacts with the East. These supports frequently have the shape of lion’s legs but, sometimes, they have human figures, as in this case. The trapezophorus opens forming a head of acanthus leaves from which a winged female figure emerges. The figure is arched, her torso is tilted to the right and her face is turned upwards to the left. Her right arm is raised while her left arm is bent and her hand rests on her side. Her head, leaning back, shows sunken eyes and a small mouth. Her hair is divided in the middle into two bands, and is gathered in a knot at the top of her head and in a bun at the nape of her neck. The loosed modelling with soft chiaroscuro transition and the dynamic design of the figure make it likely that it was executed by the end of the 1st century or the beginning of the 2nd century AD. The piece was found at the end of the 19th century in the ancient Falerio Picenus, perhaps following clandestine excavations, and it was purchased by a citizen of S. Vittoria in Matenano (FM) who sold it for a large sum to an antiquarian in Bologna. Thanks to the famous architect Giuseppe Sacconi, the statue was recovered and, after the seizure by the authorities, it was entrusted to the Museum of Ascoli. It is Giulio Gabrielli, in one of his notebooks, who told us about this successful recovery and the difficulty in transferring the piece to Ascoli, which arrived there in May 1891.

Statue depicting a satyr or the young Dionysus

From Maltignano (AP) locality La Macera Roman copy of a Greek original Marble 2nd century AD

The piece is a beautiful statuette of a young Dionysus from the middle Imperial period, and it is a characteristic example of “decorative sculpture” that is typical of the pars urbana of rustic country villas. It was found by chance in 1879 and registered as coming from a Roman rustic villa traced in the La Macèra district, in Piani Morti near Maltignano. In actuality, the exact provenance is rather doubtful, so much so that even Giulio Gabrielli himself, when he managed to have it acquired by the Museum in 1880, noted that the seller claimed to have found it at the Civitella Pass instead. therefore, the sculpture may come from an area located along the road between Ascoli and Teramo. The small sculpture, 0.53m high, represents young Dionysus. The forearms and part of the lower limbs are missing, from the knee downwards. The boy is almost completely naked, wearing only a goatskin, which hangs quite gently from the right shoulder and covers the left side. His head is turned to the right and it is slightly lowered. Moreover, it is surrounded by a crown of ivy. His hair is thick and curly falling sideways on the shoulders. The remains of a trunk that was supposed to serve as a support are behind the right leg. The iconographic model certainly derives from an early Hellenistic prototype reworked in the middle of the 2nd century AD. This is shown by the treatment of the modelling of the body and, above all, the powerful chiaroscuro technique and natural execution of the hair. As we anticipated, it is a small sculpture intended to decorate gardens, fountains or particularly sophisticated domestic environments. In these locations, the Dionysian influence found the most appropriate setting, evoking landscapes and atmospheres typical of the natural world, the woods and the forests.

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