The sculpture, unveiled outside Bucharest’s National History Museum, portrays a naked Roman emperor Trajan carrying a wolf.
It is supposed to represent the fusion of the Roman empire with the ancient tribes of Dacia.
But the work by Vasile Gorduz has been described as a “monument to Romania’s stray dogs”.
Gorduz, who died in 2008, was a central figure in Romania’s art establishment for decades, and in the 1990s was the professor of sculpture at the National University of Arts in Bucharest.
‘Doubtful artistic quality’
The nudity and apparent awkwardness of the Trajan figure, the impracticality of the pose (neither arm supports the wolf’s weight), and the appearance of the wolf, have all attracted negative comments.
“I have never seen anything so grotesque, a wolf with a pitbull’s head, a lizard’s tail and a tumour on its neck, carried by a guy who is visibly embarrassed by his nudity,” said one woman passer-by.
Even the curator of the museum has joined in the criticism of the work.
Ernest Oberlander Tarnoveanu told AFP news agency that, sooner or later, it would have to go.
“I am not a prude or a conservative, but the statue should never have been erected here because of its doubtful artistic quality,” he said.
Satirical website Times New Roman (in Romanian) commented that “Bucharest’s mayor has just inaugurated the first monument dedicated to Romania’s stray dogs”.
Other commentators have wondered why “the dog is levitating”, and why the animal wears a scarf “while the emperor isn’t even wearing any underwear”.