Sculpture of the god Jupiter

A sculpture of considerable size, destined to be placed in a shrine, representing the Roman god Jupiter. It was made of solid bronze by the lost-wax technique. The god is seen naked in a contrapposto pose, which give the piece a sense of movement. The right leg is placed fixed to the ground while the left is slightly to the front. The arms also suggest that the figure is in movement, as does the head which looks slightly to one side. This Italian term refers to the harmonious positioning of the various parts of the human figure to suggest movement while at the same time breaking with the traditional frontal pose of archaic sculptures.

The shoulders are covered by a narrow, tightly folded cape which falls down diagonally across the back and hangs over both arms. The body shows the perfect anatomy of an athletic youth. By contrast, the face represents the god as a bearded adult with dense hair falling in a number of locks. The right arm, from which the hand is missing, is reaching upward, while the left is held parallel to the body and is bent forward holding a lightning bolt. This element, along with the physiognomy, allows us to identify the figure as the deity Jupiter.

Jupiter was the main god of Roman mythology, father of the gods and of mankind. He was the supreme deity of the Capitoline Triad, made up of his sister and wife, Juno and his daughter, Minerva. His cult was probably of Sabine origin, and was introduced into Rome by Numa Pompilius (753-674 BC). It had its most important temple on the Capitoline Hill where Jupiter was worshipped as “Iuppiter Optimus Maximus”, the protector of the city of Rome and the Roman state. The authority, laws and social order of the state emanated from his figure.

The lararium was a small shrine in Roman houses in which the family members could place offerings on an altar and offer up prayers to the household gods. These were represented by statuettes called lares, mostly made of bronze. In patrician residences the lararium was in general found in the atrium, the central hall of the residence. In a simpler residence without an atrium, the shrine would be more or less in the kitchen near the central fire.

The technique of lost wax casting is a sculptural procedure using a mould made from a prototype of the piece to be worked, and this prototype is usually made from beeswax. This is covered with a thick layer of soft material, usually clay, which then solidifies. Once this has hardened it is put in a kiln where the wax inside melts and leaks out from expressly made holes in the clay. In its place molten metal is injected and this takes on the exact form of the mould. To remove the final piece the mould must be removed.

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