ROME (AP) – The Apollo of Veio shines again after a cleaning that restored the Etruscan masterpiece’s original colors and provided information about techniques used 2,500 years ago.

The restoration, unveiled Thursday at the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome, was the first in decades on the terra cotta statue of the Greek god.

“The restoration brought back to life the varied colors that caused such amazement when the statue was first discovered,” said Francesca Boitani, one of the project’s curators and the museum’s director.

Pieces of the sculpture were recovered in 1916 near Rome. Three years later the fragments – about 30, including one single big piece of the head, shoulders and torso – were pieced together to form a statue, although the arms and other parts are missing.

Since then, the Apollo underwent minor cleanups, but never a thorough restoration.

Going into the work, the statue’s structure was stable, but its surface was opaque and covered in heavy layers of dirt, dust, wax and protective coatings applied over the years, officials said.

The restorers stripped the layers with a technique that included the use of distilled water, alcohol and other delicate removers.

“You work on the piece without ever modifying it, without polluting it with traces of what you use for the cleaning,” said Tuccio Sante Guido, a leading restorer on the project.

Sante Guido said the restoration brought back color nuances that were unknown and that showed the Etruscans were sophisticated artists.

The statue is now brighter and more colorful: the god’s tunic is light brown, his robe is of a slightly different, more pinkish shade, edged in darker brown. Apollo’s smiling face is of a reddish color in stark contrast with the light colors of his vest and the gray of his braids.

The six-month, $185,000 restoration also was used to learn about materials and decorating or coloring techniques used to create works of art in the Etruscan period. All the colors, for example, were obtained mixing two minerals alone in varying quantities.

The statue was discovered shortly after the beginning of excavations in Veio, once a flourishing center of Etruscan civilizations just north of Rome, which was conquered by the Romans in 396 B.C.

Together with other statues – fragments of which have also been recovered – it decorated a temple in honor of Apollo.

AP-ES-07-15-04 1250EDT



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