Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Antique Sculpture, 1500-1900, 1981, cat. no. 63.
Athena/Minerva -as goddess of wisdom, skills and warfare- was one of the twelve Olympians. Here she is depicted wearing her traditional helmet. The bust is taken from a full figure sculpture known as the Athena (Minerva) Giustiniani. The Minerva had been bought by Lucien Bonaparte in 1805, and was installed in the grand hall of his Roman residence, the Palazzo Nunez. In 1817 he sold it to Pope Pius VII who was commissioning the Braccio Nuovo of the Vatican Museums. When the Braccio Nuovo was opened in 1822, the sculpture was installed as it is today.