The Wilton-Warburg Kriophoros

From 1957 to 2007, the entrance to the Warburg Institute, Britain’s most important centre of Renaissance studies, was watched over by a curious guardian: a sculpture of Hermes Kriophoros (ram-bearer) borrowed from Wilton House by then-director Gertrud Bing. Coinciding with the Warburg Renaissance, a £14.5 million redevelopment of its Woburn Square premises, Factum Foundation London developed a project to return the sculpture to the Institute in facsimile form.

Facsimile of the Hermes Kriophoros sculpture © Oak Taylor-Smith | Factum Foundation

Facsimile of the Hermes Kriophoros sculpture © Oak Taylor-Smith | Factum Foundation

The sculpture, which is likely a later Hellenic or Roman imitation of an archaic Greek style, was in the collection of Cardinal Mazarin in the 17th century. It was bought from his descendants by the Earl of Pembroke and entered Wilton House in 1725, a date that is inscribed on the back of the ram. As a classical sculpture that has migrated across Europe, it is an appropriate symbol for the Warburg Institute – a migrant library of the classical tradition. Read more about the history of the sculpture here.

The original was first 3D scanned in the sculpture gallery of Wilton House using photogrammetry, it was then 3D printed in sections, reassembled, silicone moulded, cast in a marble dust infused resin, and hand coloured.

3D model of the Hermes Kriophoros © Factum Foundation

Final touches to the facsimile © Oak Taylor-Smith | Factum Foundation

This project was made possible through the generosity of Sir Roy Strong, Sir Charles Saumarez Smith, Brendan Finucane, Adam Lowe, and other donors who wished to remain anonymous. Thanks also to William Herbert, 18th Earl of Pembroke, for permission to record the sculpture at Wilton House, to Chris Rolfe for facilitating the project, and to Bill Sherman, Director of the Warburg Institute.