Heritage Malta in collaboration with Professor Anthony Bonanno launched a new website in the form of an online catalogue which explores some of the finest and most significant pieces of sculpture in the national collection.
Since its foundation in the early years of the 20th century the National Museum of Archaeology has collected an appreciable number of items of sculpture of the Classical age, some from its own excavations, others donated to it by private individuals. But even before that, a set of fine pieces of marble portrait statuary had been discovered inside the remains of an outstanding Roman domus at Rabat in 1881.
These were housed in a local museum specially built to protect a section of those remains, formerly the Museum of Roman Antiquities, now the Domus Romana Museum. Like similar collections of Greco-Roman sculptures in various museums in Europe and beyond, these sculptures needed to be brought to the attention of the scientific world and the public in general through a proper publication.
Professor Anthony Bonanno has been building up this catalogue since his compilation of a doctoral dissertation at the University of Palermo in 1971, updating each item in response to a sustained production of new studies and published catalogues, and gradually making new discoveries on various groups of sculptures, which he published in various articles and books. As a result of these new observations, for example, it became possible to combine a portrait of Emperor Claudius with its respective larger-than-life-size statue, and another portrait bust of a beautiful young woman to its respective draped torso.
The need for a proper, comprehensive catalogue of all the Greco-Roman sculptures, however, was never given up though, encumbered by a busy teaching research and administrative commitment, its realization as a printed catalogue became increasingly unrealistic. For this reason, the idea of an online catalogue, which was freely and globally accessible to a much wider audience and which could easily be constantly updated, was conceived and proposed by the author to Heritage Malta, the state agency in charge of the custody and management of the country’s museums and archaeological heritage.
Heritage Malta embraced the idea and rallied the required logistical support for the realization of this project. The result is the present webpage of Heritage Malta, including some of the finest and most significant pieces of sculpture in the national collection, to which further items will be added as they are completed with the respective updated bibliography over next couple of years.
This online catalogue is available at www.heritagemalta.org/classicalsculpture/