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(from Lat., spina: ‘thorn’).

Ancient bronze statue of a seated boy extracting a thorn from his left foot (Capitoline Mus., Rome). It is recorded in Rome as early as the 12th century and during the Renaissance it was one of the most influential and copied of ancient sculptures. Its fame endured and it was one of the ancient works taken by Napoleon to Paris, where it remained from 1798 to 1815. Various stories grew up from the Renaissance onwards to explain the subject, the most popular being that the statue commemorates a shepherd boy called Gnaeus Martius who delivered an important message to the Roman Senate and only when his task was accomplished stopped to remove a thorn from his foot. It is now generally thought that the Spinario is a Roman pastiche of about the 1st century bc, combining a Hellenistic body with a head of earlier date (the way in which the hair falls suggests that the head was meant to be in an upright position rather than looking down as it is now).

Subjects: Art — Architecture.

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