Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Lanuvium Marbles return to Leeds!

Five of Leeds City Museum’s star objects have just returned after being on display in an international exhibition for most of the year.

The Lanuvium marbles are a group of life-size torsos of Roman cavalrymen and horses dating to the 1st century BC. They were discovered in the ancient town of Lanuvium, 20 miles from Rome, in the 1880s. There would have been at least nine statues in the sculptural group, although we don’t know how they originally stood. They may have been commissioned to commemorate the victory of the Roman general Lucullus in Asia Minor in the Second Mithridatic War, and erected in Lanuvium, his home town.

The marbles were brought back to Leeds by Sir John Savile Lumley (later Lord Savile), who carried out excavations at various sites in Italy, including Lanuvium, while he was British Ambassador to Rome. He divided the archive of finds between Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society and the British Museum in London in 1896.

As well as marble statues we have about 750 other objects from Lanuvium in the Leeds Museums and Galleries collection.

Above: Three marbles on display in the Ancient Worlds gallery, Leeds City Museum.
The marbles have been on loan to the Musei Capitolini in Rome for their L’eta della conquista [The Age of Conquest] exhibition which ran from March until September 2010. In the exhibition they were reunited with 3 other sculptures from the Lanuvium group on loan from the British Museum.

Right: The marbles on display in the Capitoline Museum, Rome, Sept 2010

The marbles have just returned to Leeds City Museum after being carefully packed and crated up by a specialist moving company in Rome, and transported back to the UK.

You can now see five of the marbles on display in Leeds City Museum on either side of the main foyer stairs and in the Ancient Worlds gallery. Entry to Leeds City Museum is FREE.

Author: Katherine Baxter, Curator of Archaeology, Leeds Museums and Galleries

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