Herm of Bacchus – Valadier 1773
Recorded as being on the ground floor of the Villa Borghese in the first half of the 19th century, this work, executed in 1773, was greatly admired by the archaeologist Antonio Nibby. Although he believed it to be antique — without, however, specifying the period — later studies have shown it was executed in the 18th century by an exponent of Roman Neoclassicism, Luigi Valadier. The son of Andrea Valadier, he directed the latter’s workshop from 1759, when he began to work for the Borghese, for whom he worked until his death. The torso rests on a bronze pedestal decorated with a laurel wreath and is topped with a head in patinated bronze on which a crown of vine leaves rests, with two long plaits falling onto the shoulders. On the crown there are still traces of the original gilding, and, in fact, the documents attest that Luigi Valadier gave the hair a green patina and the ivy leaves of the crown dabs of gold to produce an antique effect.
It is not known, however, whether the torso, made of rare pink alabaster, is an original creation or was an antique sculpture that was partially reworked.