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Poggio Bracciolini collects ancient sculpture

Poggio Bracciolini collects ancient sculpture

Letter to Niccolò Niccoli in Florence, from Rome, September 23 (probably 1430).


I gave some specific errands to Master Franciscus of Pistoia when he left us. Among them the most important was to look for any marble statue, even if it were broken, or any unusual head which he could bring back to me with him. I said that there was a great supply of them in the places through which he was going. He has indeed been quite careful in carrying out my commissions; for yesterday I received letters from him written from Chios in which he informed me that he was holding in my name three marble heads by Polycleitus and Praxiteles. They are heads of Juno, Minerva, and Bacchus, which he praises highly and says that he will carry with him as far as Cajeta. I do not know what to say about the names of the sculptors; as you know, the Greeks are very wordy and perhaps they have made up the names in order to sell the heads more dearly. I hope that I am wrong to suspect this. He also writes that he had got these heads from a man named Caloiros, who had recently found nearly a hundred undamaged marble statues of marvelously beautiful workmanship in some cave…. I know that when you read this you will be on fire with a desire to go there and you will want wings to fly; for the wind would not keep up with your haste, not even in flight. Now I shall stay here to dream.


Two Renaissance Book Hunters: The Letters of Poggius Bracciolini to Nicolaus De Niccolis, trans. with notes by Phyllis Walter Goodhart Gordan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), pp. 166–7.