“The sandstone Arrotino lacks of the nose and two left fingers. At a first look, this made me suspicious: Nose-missing statues are often forgeries. This was a known expedient to give a statue an antique look,” Flavia Zisa, archaeologist at the Kore University of Enna, Sicily, told Discovery News.
Believed to be an original Greek sculpture, the Uffizi Arrotino became the subject of innumerable faithful copies, especially in the 17th century.
Upon further investigation, “it became clear that the sandstone Arrotino, was not a copy at all. Many features make this a unique sculpture,” Zisa said.
Following extensive archival research, Zisa found the first reference to the sandstone statue in a 1751 book on Pisa’s monuments.
In his description of the Palazzo Lanfranchi, author Pandolfo Titi wrote that when the building was under construction, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 – 1564) “was working there at that beautiful statue of the Arrotino, which he copied from the ancient Greek one in the Tribuna of the Galleria dei Medici.”
“I would be inclined to say that this statue crafted by Michelangelo’s chisel, while made of Gonfolina sandstone, better brings out the softness of the flesh. … And next to it is displayed a beautiful Harpy for a fountain, a figure astride a frog,” Titi wrote.