The Apollo Belvedere is a classical variation on the theme of Apollo Saettante—Apollo as an Archer. The statue is believed to portray the moment just after the Greek god Apollo releases the arrow that kills the Python, a huge snake that had terrorized the people of Delphi.
The marble statue is a 2nd century AD Roman copy of a 4th century BC Greek bronze probably by Leochares, the sculptor for Alexander the Great. The statue which portrays Apollo in motion can be viewed from the front or side. It was discovered in 1489 near Anzio in central Italy and brought to the Vatican in 1511 by Juliana della Rovere (Pope Julian II). It was displayed outdoors in the Cortile del Belvedere until it was moved to the Vatican’s Pio-Clementine Museum.
Apollo’s right hand, left arm and other more personal parts of his anatomy are missing. The arm and hard were restored but his personal parts were covered by a fig leaf. Two different versions are pictured.
Tastes change over time and the Apollo Belvedere has been regarded by some as a symbol of male perfection. It was probably used as a model for Michelangelo’s David and the Durer’s Adam. In coming weeks we’ll check out appearances of our gorgeous Apollo throughout history. Rita Bay