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 an interdisciplinary and international research cooperation using
innovative methodology. This methodology includes, i.a., petrographic analysis (optical mineralogy),
photographic documentation, 3D-scan and 3D-digital remodelling of the artefact from top-to-toe.
Subsequently, the problems, will be (re)examined, such as the (Christian) origins, the (re)usage, the
Sitz-im-Leben and the purpose of the sculpture. Furthermore, the reception of the antique sculpture
will be explored by the “restaurateur” Ligorio, as well as the reception, use and interpretation of the
reconstructed sculpture until today. Thus, the proposed project pursues two major aims: first, to
carry out cutting-edge research on a high-profile object; second, to initiate international and
interdisciplinary research cooperation.
This project received a “Research Grant” from the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO).
Dr. Ágnes Bencze, Faculty of Arts, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary
Prof. Dr. Patrick Degryse, Faculty of Science, KU Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Anthony Dupont, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Antonio E. Felle, Christian and Medieval Epigraphy, University Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy
Dr. András Handl (PI), Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies; KU Leuven, Belgium
Dr. András Németh, Curator of Greek Manuscripts, Vatican Apostolic Library, Vatican City
Dr. András Patay-Horváth, Ancient History, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
Prof. Dr. Stefan Schorn, Faculty of Arts, KU Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Umberto Utro, Curator of Christian Antiquities, Vatican Museums, Vatican City