The white marble Hanging Marsyas, one of the most famous statues of the Medicean collection, plays a central role in the sculpture history of the Hellenistic period. This type is well known after a good number of replicas, one of which is at the Louvre and another at the Istanbul Museum; the Marsyas is traceable to a group, that included the celebrated Knife-grinder of the Tribuna, executed in the Pergamene artistic milieu of the II century B.C. The Florentine Marsyas is a whole figure of the suffering satyr, shown as he waits the to be flayed alive by Apollo, as punishment for having defied the god in a musical contest, and lost. The modern integrations, limited to the feet and part of the arms, stand out for their quality and are certainly to be attributed to a still unknown sixteenth-century expert sculptor. The Florentine statue boasts a long and complex collectionism history that from the Capranica collection in Rome, where it is attested since the first half of the XVI century, brought it to Villa Medici on the Pincian Hill before reaching Florence towards the end of the XVIII century. Notwithstanding historical-artistic importance of the sculpture, no maintenance or restoration interventions have been undertaken over the last decades, thus impairing its legibility.
Layers of dust, accumulated over ancient wax coatings, had weakened the powerful plasticity of the work of art. The restoration work, masterly conducted by Paola Rosa, was carried out with gradual and differentiated techniques. Firstly, the deposits of incoherent dust were removed with soft-bristle brushes, with a subsequent deeper cleaning with swabs saturated with deionized water and turpentine essence. This evidenced the old stuccoed areas, made from chalk and marble dust that, besides being no longer functional, had changed tonality thus disturbing legibility. These were removed with a bistoury, then replaced with mortars made of marble dust and natural pigments. The surface cleaning and the chromatic harmonization brought to light very interesting and so far unknown traces of ancient workmanship on the rear of the statue, showing that the back had been left unfinished, as it had not been polished with abrasive sand. The restoration also offered the opportunity for a thorough photographic campaign that included photos of the rear, thus far not available. Moreover, a detailed mapping of fractures and integrating fillings allowed the exact definition of the antiquity of some portions of the sculpture, such as the top part of the pine-tree to which the satyr is tied up, that turned out to be a re-applied antique element and not a modern complement as reported in previous literature. The intervention was concluded with a water-coloring phase meant to restitute as much as possible a chromatic homogeneity to the surfaces.