Clumsy Waiter Breaks Thumb on Ancient Roman Statue

It has been in the British Museum collection for over 200 years.

The Townley Venus (circa first or second century AD). Courtesy of the British Museum.
The Townley Venus (circa first or second century AD). Courtesy of the British Museum.

An ancient Roman sculpture fell victim to a clumsy waiter at the British Museum when the thumb of the Townley Venus was knocked off during a corporate event, reports the Art Newspaper.

The incident, which was only acknowledged this week, took place during the set up for an event last December. The waiter, who was working for one of the external catering companies employed by the museum, got too close to the statue and bumped into it, knocking off the work’s right thumb.

Luckily, according to a museum spokesperson, it was a clean and easily-repaired break, with the restoration carried out in the gallery during off hours. “We have taken steps to ensure it does not happen again,” they told TAN. “Any staff who are involved in managing or invigilating events have gone through retraining on the protection of objects before and during events.”

The Townley Venus (circa first or second century AD). Courtesy of the British Museum.

The Townley Venus (circa first or second century AD). Courtesy of the British Museum.

The Townley Venus, which dates to the first or second century, is a Roman copy of a fourth-century BC Greek work depicting the goddess of love. The statuesque, half-nude Venus stands seven feet tall and is wrapped in drapery from the waist down.

It was excavated in 1775, amid the ruins of the baths at Ostia, Italy. The statue is named after English collector Charles Townley, who purchased it from its discoverer. His descendants sold the work to the British Museum in 1805.

The Townley Venus (circa first or second century AD). Courtesy of the British Museum.

The Townley Venus (circa first or second century AD). Courtesy of the British Museum.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a 2,000-year-old work of art, this is not the first time the Townley Venus has had an accident. A visitor to the museum bumped into the statue in 2012, rebreaking part of the work’s hand. As with the most recent incident, the damage was repaired.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics