Saturday, May 7, 2016

Belvedere Torso, Ludovisi Mars, Pan & Apollo

Belvedere Torso
Roman marble sculpture of the 1st century BC, based on an earlier work
Vatican Museums

"Most visitors paid their homage to the Torso, but one of the earliest references to it makes it clear that it was not admired by the uncultivated (goffi), and its reputation was essentially an academic one. The fact that Michelangelo had not merely admired the Torso in the abstract but had actually 'discovered a certain principle [in it] ... which principle gave his works a grandeur of gusto equal to the best antiques' led to its becoming known as 'the school of Michelangelo'. This made a great impact on artists, as Maffei acknowledged  and as can be observed in many paintings and some statues. 'Hence you see alwaies a world of sculptors designing it out', wrote one seventeenth-century visitor to Rome." 

J.M.W. Turner
Belvedere Torse
ca. 1789-93
student drawing in chalk - made in London from a cast
Victoria & Albert Museum

William Hilton
Belvedere Torso
ca. 1801-1839
drawing
British Museum

James Anderson
Belvedere Torso
ca. 1845-55
albumen silver print
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Jan de Bisschop
Belvedere Torso
1730s
etching
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Jan de Bisschop
Belvedere Torso, twice
1730s
etching
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

"Reynolds told his students that "a mind elevated to the contemplation of excellence perceives in this defaced and shattered fragment, disjecti membra poetae, the traces of superlative genius, the reliques of a work on which succeeding ages can only gaze with inadequate admiration."  Well over a hundred years earlier the Torso had been turned into the very symbol of the art of Sculpture: we find it, for instance in Jacques Buirette's Union of Painting and Sculpture (Louvre)  a marble relief (below) presented by him to the Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture in 1663 as a reception piece, and thereafter it is included in many allegories of the arts until well into the nineteenth century."

Jacques Buirette
Union of Painting and Sculpture
1663
marble relief
Louvre

"Its fragmentary condition also gave the Torso symbolic significance of a quite different kind: the frontispiece of Perrier's anthology of 1638 portrayed a gaunt figure of Time remorselessly devouring the stump of its arm, as it had and would continue to devour the other famous statues which he illustrated." 

François Perrier
Frontispiece with Time devouring the arm of Belvedere Torso
1638
etching
British Museum

The restored statue of the god Mars (below) was one of the highly admired Ludovisi marbles  other names for it included, Adonis ; Carinus ; The Gladiator ; Mars in Love ; Seated Mars. Although the Ludovisi collection was renowned, access to the galleries in the Palazzo Grande on the family's Roman estate was limited. At the beginning of the 20th century when most of the Ludovisi statues moved into a modern public museum they started a new life of accessibility. Ironically, the prestige they had enjoyed for centuries was suddenly in steep decline. Anybody could see them now, but fewer cared to.

Ludovisi Mars
Roman marble copy of earlier Hellenistic work
Muzeo Nazionale Romano

Anonymous
Ludovisi Mars
18th century
drawing
British Museum

Domenico de Rossi
Ludovisi Mars
ca. 1704
engraving
Philadelphia Museum of Art

James Anderson
Ludovisi Mars
ca. 1845-55
albumen silver print
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Eight versions of the marble figure-group below – called Pan and Apollo  were known in Rome. Other popular titles were Marsyas and Olympos ; Pan and Daphnis ; Satyr and Boy ; Satyr and Faun ; Silenus and Bacchus. Current belief maintains that the smaller figure holding pipes should not be identified as Apollo but as the shepherd Daphnis. The version from the Farnese collection (immediately below) was transferred to the National Museum in Naples at the end of the 19th century, along with many Farnese sculptures.

Pan and Apollo (Farnese version)
Roman marble copy of earlier Hellenistic work
Museo Archaeological Nazionale, Naples

Anonymous engraver
Pan and Apollo (Farnese version)
ca. 1550-85
engraving
British Museum

In the same way and in the same period the Cesi/Ludovisis version of Pan and Apollo (below) was carried along when that collection also was surrendered to the state and transferred to the national museum in Rome.

Domenico de Rossi
Pan and Apollo (Cesi/Ludovisi version)
ca. 1704
engraving
Philadelphia Museum of Art

"Du Bellay's description of a Satyr tempting a boy with a gift which the boy likes 'although the wild giver does not find favor with him' may refer to either the Cesi or the Farnese group both of which he could have seen in Rome between 1553 and 1557. It is also hard not to believe that Riccio's bronze statuette of a Satyr couple (below), although the approaches here are both heterosexual and reciprocal, was made without knowledge of some version of this group."  

Andrea Riccio
 Satyr and Satyress
ca. 1510-20
bronze statuette
Victoria & Albert Museum