The Palatine Colossi

The spectacular couple of Colossi form the linking element of the great Halls. Sculpted from basanite stone and dated from the II century AD/CE, they were excavated from the Imperial residence on the Palatine and brought to the Parma area in 1724 to adorn the gardens of the Reggia of Colorno. Placed in relation to contemporary Farnese commissions they have been in this position since 1822 thanks to the knowledgeable architectural project by Nicolò Bettoli at the instigation of the Duchess Maria Luigia. These two stunning statues stand at the conclusion of modern official portraiture codification, leading to the decorative cycle of mythological subjects. Here, the use of mythological iconography for propaganda and ideological ends, has a decisive influence on contemporary taste as can be seen in the style of the side whiskers of Hercules, so fashionable during the period of the Directory. As far as the neoclassical ellipse is concerned, it was possibly based on Hellenistic models and forms a perfect scenographic transition between the various sections of the Hall. The Colossi, which were originally placed in the Aula Regia of the Domus Flavia, document the African and Oriental influence active in Rome from the end of the I century AD/CE and represent a new model to replace Hellenistic rationalism.

Photo credits
Giovanni Hänninen