A 38cm-long bronze finger has rejoined the hand of Constantine the Great in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. The ancient digit, once part of a 12m-high statue of Constantine of which several sizeable fragments survive, was acquired by the Louvre from the Italian collector Giampietro Campana in 1863 but, in 1913, was catalogued as a Roman toe. Research in 2018 identified that this was not a toe, but an index finger, and that its size would be a good fit for a 12m-tall emperor. In preparation for the 2018 exhibition A Dream of Italy: the collection of the Marquis Campana, Françoise Gaultier, director of the department of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities, and other researchers from the Louvre and the Center de recherche et de restauration des Musées de France wanted to test this theory, and so headed to Rome with a specially created resin replica of the finger, which they found fitted the hand perfectly.
Now the original has returned to Rome, and has been reattached to the hand using non-invasive and reversible methods. The finger joins the statue’s colossal head and left forearm, and the sphere it would have held.