Fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of the Riace Bronzes: Poste Italiane issues a stamp for the anniversary

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By John

Poste Italiane announces that today 12 December 2023 an ordinary stamp belonging to the thematic series “Italian artistic and cultural heritage” is issued by the Ministry of Business and Made in Italy dedicated to the Riace Bronzes, on the 50th anniversary of the discovery, relating to the value of tariff B equal to €1.25.
Circulation: two hundred and fifty thousand and twenty copies.
Sheet of forty-five copies

The stamp is printed by the Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato SpA, in rotogravure, on white, neutral coated, self-adhesive, non-fluorescent paper.

Sketch by the Philatelic Production Center of the Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato SpA

The cartoon reproduces the Riace Bronzes, two statues considered among the most significant masterpieces of Greek art of the 5th century BC, found on 16 August 1972 in the seabed of Riace and kept at the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria.

The stamp is completed by the legend “BRONZI DI RIACE 50TH ANNIVERSARY DISCOVERY”, the writing “ITALY” and the indication of the tariff “B”.

The first day of issue cancellation will be available at the philatelic counter of the Reggio Calabria Centro post office.

The stamp and related philatelic products, postcards, cards and illustrative bulletins will be available at post offices with philatelic counters, the “Filately Spaces” in Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Rome, Rome 1, Turin, Trieste, Venice, Verona and on the filatelia.poste.it website.

For the occasion, a three-fold philatelic folder in A4 format was also created, containing a quadruplet of stamps, a single stamp, a canceled and stamped postcard, a first day of issue cover and the illustrative bulletin, at the price of €20.

The story of the two statues

For the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Riace Bronzes, which took place on 16 August 1972 in the waters of the Ionian Sea, the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria promoted a rich program of activities, in close synergy with the institutions, research bodies and training, and the third sector.
The Riace Bronzes are two extraordinary works, icons of the Italian archaeological and cultural heritage, whose images have traveled around the world in half a century, entering the collective imagination as a symbol of the sculptural perfection of antiquity. Masterpieces of Greek art, they are among the very few works of great bronze art from the 5th century BC that have come down to us intact. From the first exhibition their beauty, emphasized by the mysterious randomness of their discovery, made them the heritage of the public even before being objects of study by ancient art specialists.
Their discovery occurred thanks to a young Roman chemist, Stefano Mariottini, during an underwater fishing trip on the Ionian coast of Riace (RC). After an initial cleaning operation at the National Museum of Reggio Calabria, the Bronzes were transferred to Florence in January 1975, to undergo a restoration operation that lasted five years. The two statues were exhibited for the first time in December 1980 at the Archaeological Museum of Florence and, before returning to Reggio Calabria, the President of the Republic Sandro Pertini he wanted to host them at the Quirinale at the beginning of the following summer. Having arrived at the National Museum of Reggio Calabria, the Bronzes attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, becoming the main cultural attractors of the area. After the last restoration, carried out between 2010 and 2013, today the two statues are exhibited in a special room, equipped with sophisticated microclimatic control systems and a double filter environment access system, supported by specially designed seismic bases by ENEA.
The National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, among the first autonomous institutes born from the minister’s reform Dario Franceschini, it fully reopened to the public on April 30, 2016, under the direction of Carmelo Malacrino. Since then the Riace Bronzes, together with the magnificent heads recovered in Porticello, conclude a highly evocative exhibition itinerary, aimed at every type of public: four levels, over 200 showcases and thousands of artefacts testifying to the extraordinary history of Calabria.
As part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Riace Bronzes, the Ministry of Business and Made in Italy has issued this stamp, upon proposal of the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, to underline their artistic, historical and social importance with a view to promoting Italy and its magnificent cultural heritage.