Bust of Dionysus / Plato, copy after the antique
19th century, Bronze
In 1759, during the eighteenth-century excavations at Herculaneum that unearthed what was left from the eruption of Vesuvius, a bronze bust of a bearded man was found at the Villa dei Papiri, mutilated, with its forehead wrapped in a bandage (signifying the protection of a deity) and its hair gathered at the nape of its neck by a scroll, rendered with a calligraphic treatment much appreciated by scholars of the time; the thick beard ended below the neckline in five closed curls. It is a stupendous work, executed around 50 B.C. from a Greek original, which was believed to be the image of Plato because of its intensely pensive expression; today it is considered to be a depiction of Dionysus, the powerful god of earthly production, associated in particular with wine. This extraordinary copy is derived from that prototype. It was made by Chiurazzi Internazionale srl, heir to the Fonderia Artistica Chiurazzi, founded by Gennaro Chiurazzi in 1870 at the Albergo dei Poveri in Naples as a family-run artistic training workshop, which soon became internationally renowned.