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Ariadne  

Ariadne

Cat. 548

The statue of Ariadne sleeping was acquired by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) in 1512 for the Courtyard of Statues (Cortile delle Statue) where it was adapted in order to decorate a fountain. After being moved several times, it was finally placed where you see it now in 1779 and the painter Cristoforo Unterperger painted the background of the niche with Egyptian motifs, now covered over with a red wash. Because the statue has a bracelet in the form of a serpent, it was believed to be of Cleopatra, who killed herself with the bite of an asp. It was Ennio Quirino Visconti who finally recognised the statue as being of Ariadne at the end of the 1700s. Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete who, after having helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur and escape the Labyrinth, was abandoned by the ungrateful man as she lay sleeping on the island of Naxos; she was re-awakened by the arrival of Dionysus, who married her. The sculpture is a copy of a 2nd century B.C. original from the school of Pergamon and had some other replicas in Roman times.