A re-united pair: The conservation, technical study, and ethical decisions involved in exhibiting two terracotta orante statues from Canosa

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Costello, Susan D.; Klausmeyer, Philip;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 59, Number 6, p.377-390 (2014)


The collection of the Worcester Art Museum includes two rare Magna Graecia terracotta funerary statues from Canosa, Italy dating to the third century BCE. Each depicts a female figure in prayer or lament known as an orante. The orantes were purchased by the museum in 1927, but shortly thereafter were separated. One was left in storage for nearly seven decades and the other was sold, and ultimately entered a private collection halfway around the world. The orantes were recently reunited under serendipitous circumstances and, after more than 80 years, will finally be placed on display at the Museum. As part of a comprehensive treatment, a technical study was carried out to identify the materials and methods used in their manufacture and in previous restoration campaigns. Materials were characterized by cross-section analysis, spot tests, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), neutron activation analysis (NAA), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), thermoluminescence (TL) dating, and reflectance transformation imaging (RTI). The analytical findings helped inform the conservation treatments, which included structural work, surface cleaning using a Nd:YAG laser, and esthetic reintegration.