Two joining sculpture fragments Images of Empire: Flavian Fragments in Rome and Ann Arbor Rejoined

Copies and Casts

With the cooperation of the Kelsey Museum, which loaned its fragments to the Museo Nazionale Romano in 1993, conservators in Rome created a complete set of casts of all the sculptures. This project offered a unique opportunity to document each step in an innovative replication process that was developed to meet stringent scientific and aesthetic criteria. The mold-making technique must cause no damage to the marble surfaces of the artifacts, but it also had to produce casts of extraordinary mimetic quality, since the replicas were ultimately destined for display alongside the original sculptures in their respective museums.

Original Kelsey Fragments Casts in reconstruction
Original Kelsey fragments

Casts used in reconstruction of adventus

This undertaking also raised the problem of the relationship between the original and the copy, which has changed considerably from classical antiquity to the present day. The replica has been valued for different reasons in different periods: as a copy of a masterpiece, as an answer to the demands of private and public art collectors (the latter including institutions such as art academies and universities), and as a source of evidence for lost works of art.

Copyright ©1997, 2002 Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali, Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Ancient Molds
Originals and Copies
Molds and Casts
The Copy Today
Hartwig-Kelsey Casts