Septimius Severus (Primary Title)

Unknown , Roman (Artist)

ca. 200 with 17th century additions and modifications
Overall: 86 × 47 × 37 in. (218.44 × 119.38 × 93.98 cm)

This statue of Septimius Severus (reigned 193–211), a Roman emperor born in Africa, exemplifies the baroque restoration practices of the 1630s, when patrons and restorers valued the beauty of a complete work of art rather than (as today) an appreciation for the fragment. The head and body belong to two different ancient statues and were probably joined in the 1630s, when restorers added newly made arms, legs, and other elements. The statue once belonged to the renowned Roman collector Vincenzo Giustiniani (1564–1637), who had a museum of ancient sculpture and was also an early patron of the artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

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Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
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Septimius Severus Conservation

In 1967 the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts acquired a monumental statue of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus. In 2007 the museum undertook a comprehensive research campaign using scientific and art historical methods to determine whether or not the statue is a work of ancient art.

Septimius Severus: An Art Historical Puzzle

Who was Septimius Severus?

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.