Bronze, partially gilded, eyes inlaid in silver
Height 41.3 cm
Around 1489, a statue was found in Rome which became one of the most famous sculptures of antiquity very soon after its excavation: a larger-than-life-size marble statue of Apollo. Ever since 1503, when it was erected in the Belvedere, the sculpture courtyard of the Vatican, it has been known as the Apollo Belvedere. In the eighteenth century Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the founder of the discipline of archaeology, described it as “the highest ideal of art among all the works of antiquity”.
The bronze figure of the Apollo Belvedere in the Liebieghaus is a work by the Renaissance sculptor Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi, known as Antico. Because of its closeness to the ancient original, it is thought to be the earliest of three bronzes made by him as small-scale reproductions of that original. Antico is the first artist since ancient times who is known to have made multiple bronze casts from a threedimensional model. This Frankfurt bronze has been finished in a particularly exquisite manner, with fire-gilding on the hair, quiver, cloak and sandals, and silver inlays in the eyes. The artist underlined the importance of the statuette by signing the strap of the quiver: ANT.
Bonacolsi, who probably trained initially as a goldsmith, was known for his restorations of ancient statues but prized most of all for his bronze statuettes reproducing ancient models. He called himself “Antico” to reflect this speciality. His works were much sought-after collectors’ items for cabinets of curiosities at princely residences.