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Florence's statues rot from pollution (#1773)
One of Florence's most famous statues, the Rape of the Sabine Women, has been left covered with pockmarks and black scum because of the city's pollution.
The 14ft sculpture by Jean du Boulogne, the Flemish artist renamed Giambologna while working for the Medici family in Italy, has stood in the open since 1582.
However, in the past five years, the surface of the masterpiece has been stained yellow and acid rain has eaten small craters in its surface. The sculpture stands in the Loggia dei Lanzi, an open air gallery of Renaissance statues next to the Uffizi Museum.
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The rot is so bad that the city is likely to move it to a museum.
The decay of the sculpture is all the more remarkable since it was restored in 2001. At the time, the head of the restoration, Antonio Paolucci, warned that it should be moved indoors.
A commission has been set up to decide whether to remove the statue from the open.
Magnolia Scudieri, a member of the commission, told Corriere della Sera: "At first we decided to apply a protective coating. We have been doing that every six months and looking at the results. The news is not good. Instead of waiting for two years, as planned, we are making a decision sooner."
In 1872, the original of Michelangelo's David, carved 80 years before Giambologna's statue, was moved indoors and a copy was made for the Piazza della Signora. Other statues in the square are also at risk, and could also be transferred.
The Sabine sculpture was carved out of the largest single block of marble ever brought to Florence.