A Very Fine c.1864 Pencil Study of the Apollo Belvedere


Origin: English
Period: Early/Mid Victorian
Provenance: Ex Manchester School of Art
Date: c.1864
Height: 26.5 inches
Width: 18 inches
The Whole in Frame: 34.75 x 26.25 inches

The very fine English School study of the Apollo Belvedere in pencil bearing remnants of an old Manchester Art School label verso, in a later inset blue mount and gilt frame.

The condition of the drawing is fair. There is darkening and yellowing to the paper and noticeable foxing throughout so the picture does appear in aged condition though there are no tears, rips or attempts at restoration or cleaning. The frame and inset mount are probably mid/late twentieth century.

The original part label verso reads:

Manchester 1864
Stage: 872
Student: William H (??)
Age: 23
Occupation: Engraver
Time in school 9 months
Medals already obtained in stages - 46,52,66,85,??
Price ?

The work is also emboss stamped to the top right hand corner “S&AD Examined 1865’ and to the lower right corner with a ‘C’ in pencil and a vacant square. We presume this to be the Manchester School of Art which was established in 1838 as the Manchester School of Design.

This drawing depicts the statue called Apollo Belvedere (7.3 feet high), a Roman copy of a lost bronze original dated c. 350-325 BC by the Greek sculptor Leochares. The figure represents the Greek god Apollo after his defeat of the serpent Python using a bow and arrow. The figure’s taut muscles indicate that he has just released the arrow.

The Apollo Belvedere, or Pythian Apollo, has inspired artists’ anatomical learning since its rediscovery in the 15th century. The figure’s contrapposto pose, a standing position whereby the figure has most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off axis from the hips and legs, has been endlessly copied ever since by artists interested in giving their figures greater animation. Albrecht Dürer used the pose in his 1504 engraving of Adam and Eve.

A very accomplished study by a more than capable young artist of the time, which must have yielded very high recognition and opinion of his talents and prospects. Worth further research.