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a temporary exhibit

La Pierre en Images

Les sculptures de Noviodunum: entre province et métropole

Visions in stone

Noviodunum's Sculpture: between the provinces and the metropolis

14 April 2000 - 30 April 2001

For a year the museum's main exhibition area featured the setting of a sculpture workshop and of a garden.

Some of the pieces from the museum collection were shown as they might have looked when they were new, i.e., painted, and on pedestals in the garden, or even still in the workshop.

The exhibition was occasioned by analysis of all the stone types found in the collection, which revealed the history of each piece: its probably place of origin, workmanship, age, and destination.

Sculptures filled the lives of ancient people. Displaying statues of the emperor , and of the imperial royal families and high officials, showed respect and loyalty to authority that was expected under the Empire.


Cities, associations and private citizens commissioned works for display in public places. Sanctuaries, temples and cemeteries were full of statues,

This double herm, representing Arianna and Bachus, is shown as it appears today, unpainted, and as it probably looked when it was new.

Once a statue had been carved, it would have been dipped in wax, to give the effect of skin. Then the clothes, hair, eyes, and lips were painted.

We have this information through literary sources, and from the remains of paint and wax found on statues.

Pieces found in Nyon indicate that several inhabitants imported sculpture directly from Italy, or had high quality copies of Greek and Roman works made locally. We also know from these sculptures that certain residents were exceptionally wealthy, and that the area became Romanized early and firmly.

Stone working tools have hardly changed through the centuries.




Different artistic influences are visible in the pieces found in Nyon. For example, the architectural decoration of the forum is so similar to that found in other cities in the south of Gaul (France), it is thought that workmen from that area must have come to Noviodunum to prepare the stones for the forum

Heavy stones required a lifting machine to move them about. The stone in the picture above still has a ring in place, so that it could be hooked to the ropes of a crane.

Click here to see how this worked

A detail of a hand holding a toga


A fragment of a statue of a man in a toga, perhaps the Emperor Augustus, was found in the area sacra of the forum. It was carved from marble, in Italy. In the Museum, it is shown with a projection of the missing pieces.
A scrim of a bas-relief used in the exhibition La Pierre en Images.


Click here to visit the Nyon Roman Museum's web page about this exhibit in English, or in French.



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This page was updated on 27 June, 2004 by K. Epps

Unless otherwise mentioned, all photos are by Katharine Epps.
Sauf mention contraire les photos sont de Katharine Epps