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Photographer's Note

his is one of my favorite ancient sculptures, as it's just such a personal portrait, and reminds us of the actual people who lived and died so many centuries ago, but, essentially, they were like us in most ways.rnrnThis sculpture, entitled "Boy with Thorn," alternatively "Fedele" (Fedelino) or "Spinario," is a Hellenistic bronze of a boy drawing a thorn from the sole of his foot. Although the exact date of its creation is unknown, recent scholarship has attributed it to a Roman bronze of the first century CE, with a head adapted from an archaic prototype. It's housed in the magnificent Palazzo dei Conservatori (Capitoline Museum) in Rome. There's also a Roman marble version of this subject in the Medici collections in a corridor of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, so it was evidently popular even in ancient times.rnrnIts also unique in that it was evidently a lot of other people's favorite statue: it was one of the only ancient bronzes never to be "lost," as it was kept in someone's collection since its creation. For example, it was apparently on display outside the Lateran Palace when the Navarrese rabbi Benjamin of Tudela saw it and wrote about it in the 1160s. It was mentioned by another author around 1200 - English visitor Magister Gregorius wrote in his "De mirabilibus urbis Romae" (indeed!) that it was ridiculously thought to be Priapus (apparently, he didn't know anything about what Priapus was famous for!). It was probably then transferred to the Palazzo dei Conservatori by Pope Sixtus IV in the 1470s, though it is not attested there until 1499-1500. It's been in various collections in Rome over the last 500 years, and is now on display at the aforementioned Capitoline Museum.rnrnThe formerly popular title Il Fedele ("The faithful boy") is derived from an anecdote from Roman history: a faithful messenger, a shepherd boy, had been dispatched to deliver a message to the Roman Senate, stopping only to remove a painful thorn from his foot: the Roman Senate subsequently commemorated the event. The veracity of the account is much doubted, of course, but the story behind the sculpture clearly struck a cord.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 89 W: 78 N: 1001] (1815)
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