Rare acrolithic marble sculptures of Demeter and Kore, from the extramural S. Francesco Bisconti sanctuary, Morgantina, central Sicily.
An acrolith is a composite sculpture made of stone and other materials, as in the case of a figure whose torso is made of wood, while the head, hands, and feet are made of marble. The wood was concealed either by drapery or by gilding; only the marble parts were exposed to view. This type of statuary was common and widespread in Classical antiquity.
Nearly 40 years after it disappeared from the sanctuary of San Francesco Bisconti in Morgantina, a Hellenistic period statue of the head of Hades is set to return to Sicily from Los Angeles. The head – nicknamed ‘Barbablù’, due to a lick of blue colouring on a curl of its beard – was stolen and illegally exported in the late 1970s, and acquired in good faith by the Getty Museum in 1985. After years of investigation on the Italian side, the statue was identified by its distinctive facial hair, and has now been returned.