The Hippolytos-statue

The Hippolytos-statue Project

The first known Christianised free-standing sculpture in history, the so called “Hippolytos-statue”, appears to be a “transvestite”: the bearded philosopher wears female underwear and is seated on a throne covered by inscriptions. The anomaly has its roots in the Renaissance reassembly of antique torso(s)/fragment(s) and in a “modern” completion by the antiquarian Pirro Ligorio (1512?-1583). In order to reveal its obscurities and set centuries of guesswork on “rock solid” foundations, the sculpture will be examined by a multidisciplinary and international research consortium using top-notch methodology. Ideally, this methodology should include, petrographic analysis (optical mineralogy), photographic documentation, photogrammetrical documentation and 3D modelling.
A recontextualisation of the statue and it’s most iconic features like the calendars and the list of work titles will shed some light on the (Christian) origins, the (re)usage, and on the Ligorian ‘interpretation’. All of these aspects will result in a better understanding of the Sitz-im-Leben and the ‘purpose’ of the sculpture.

In 2021, a two days workshop contextualised the statue against its (supposed) 3rd century AD backdrop.

A second workshop, which will take place 10. October 2022, will not only shed light on some fundamental and often discusses issues, but also engange with the ‘dark side’ of Ligorio and his impact on the statue as it is today. The workshop is free and open to all. For further information click here.

This project received a “Research Grant” from the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO).

Associated Researchers

Prof. Dr. Patrick Degryse, Faculty of Science, KU Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Anthony Dupont, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium
Dr. András Handl (PI), Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies; KU Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Stefan Schorn, Faculty of Arts, KU Leuven, Belgium

Partner Institutions

Centre for Archaeological Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium
Vatican Apostolic Library, Vatican City

Former Project Associates

Dr. Ágnes Bencze, Faculty of Arts, Pázmámy Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary, (2017-2020)
Dr. András Németh, Curator of Greek Manuscripts, Vatican Apostolic Library, Vatican City, (2017-2020)
Dr. Franco Prampolini, Dipartimento di Patrimonio, Architettura e Urbanistica, Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria, Reggio Calabria, Italy, (2019-2020)