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Apoxyomenos is one of the conventional subjects of ancient Greek votive sculpture
Ancient Greek sculpture
Ancient Greek sculpture is the sculpture of Ancient Greece. Modern scholarship identifies three major stages. They were used to depict the battles, mythology, and rulers of the land known as Ancient Greece.-Geometric:...

; it represents an athlete, caught in the familiar act of scraping sweat and dust from his body with the small curved instrument that the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 called a strigil
A strigil was a small, curved, metal tool used in ancient Greece and Rome to scrape dirt and sweat from the body before effective soaps became available. First perfumed oil was applied to the skin, and then it would be scraped off, along with the dirt. For wealthier people, this process was often...


The most renowned Apoxyomenos in Classical Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 was that of Lysippos
Lysippos was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC. Together with Scopas and Praxiteles, he is considered one of the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek era, bringing transition into the Hellenistic period. Problems confront the study of Lysippos because of the difficulty of...

 of Sikyon, the court sculptor of Alexander the Great, made ca 330 BCE. The bronze original is lost, but it is known from its description in Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

's Natural History, which relates that the Roman general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was a Roman statesman and general. He was a close friend, son-in-law, lieutenant and defense minister to Octavian, the future Emperor Caesar Augustus...

 installed Lysippos's masterpiece in the Baths of Agrippa
Baths of Agrippa
The Baths of Agrippa were a structure of ancient Rome, built by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, the first of the great thermae constructed in the city. In their first form, constructed at the same time as the Pantheon and on axis with it, as a balaneion , they were apparently a hot-air bath with a cold...

 that he erected in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, around 20 BCE. Later, the emperor Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

 became so enamored of the figure that he had it removed to his bedroom. However an uproar in the theatre, "Give us back our Apoxyomenos", shamed the emperor into replacing it.

The sculpture is commonly represented by the Penteli
Pentéli or Pendeli, , and Vrilissos or Vrilittos , Mendeli in medieval times) is a tall mountain and mountain range situated northeast of Athens and southwest of Marathon. Its elevation is 1,109 m...

c marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 copy in the Museo Pio-Clementino in Rome, discovered in 1849 when it was excavated in Trastevere
Trastevere is rione XIII of Rome, on the west bank of the Tiber, south of Vatican City. Its name comes from the Latin trans Tiberim, meaning literally "beyond the Tiber". The correct pronunciation is "tras-TEH-ve-ray", with the accent on the second syllable. Its logo is a golden head of a lion on a...

 (illustration, right). Plaster cast
Plaster cast
A plaster cast is a copy made in plaster of another 3-dimensional form. The original from which the cast is taken may be a sculpture, building, a face, a fossil or other remains such as fresh or fossilised footprints – particularly in palaeontology .Sometimes a...

s of it soon found their way into national academy collections, and it is the standard version in textbooks. The sculpture, slightly larger than lifesize, is characteristic of the new canon of proportion pioneered by Lysippos, with a slightly smaller head (1:8 of the total height, rather than the 1:7 of Polykleitos
Polykleitos ; called the Elder, was a Greek sculptor in bronze of the fifth and the early 4th century BCE...

) and longer and thinner limbs. Pliny notes a remark that Lysippos "used commonly to say" - that while other artists "made men as they really were, he made them as they appeared to be." Lysippus poses his subject in a true contrapposto
Contrapposto is an Italian term that means counterpose. It is used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs. This gives the figure a more dynamic, or alternatively relaxed...

, with an arm outstretched to create a sense of movement and interest from a range of viewing angles.

Pliny also mentioned treatments of this motif by Polykleitos
Polykleitos ; called the Elder, was a Greek sculptor in bronze of the fifth and the early 4th century BCE...

 and by his pupil or follower, Daidalos of Sikyon, who seems to have produced two variants on the theme. A fragmentary bronze statue of the Polycleitan/Sikyonian type, who holds his hands low to clean the sweat and dust from his left hand, was excavated in 1896 at the site of Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

 in Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

; it is conserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum
Kunsthistorisches Museum
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna, Austria. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome...

, Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. Its quality is so fine that scholars have debated whether it is a fourth-century original, in the sense that workshop repetitions are all "originals" or a later copy made during the Hellenistic period. A classicising version in the neo-Attic
Neo-Attic or Atticizing is a sculptural style, beginning in Hellenistic sculpture and vase-painting of the 2nd century BCE and climaxing in Roman art of the 2nd century CE, copying, adapting or closely following the style shown in reliefs and statues of the Classical and Archaic periods...

 style in the Medici
The House of Medici or Famiglia de' Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside,...

 collections at the Uffizi
The Uffizi Gallery , is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.-History:...

 had led earlier scholars to posit a classical fifth-century original, before the bronze was unearthed at Ephesus.

A substantially complete bronze Apoxyomenos of this model, who strigilates his left hand, held close to his thigh, was recovered by Rene Wouten from the northern Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 between two islets, Vele Orjule and Kosjak, near Lošinj
Lošinj is a Croatian island in the northern Adriatic Sea, in the Kvarner Gulf. It is almost due south of the city of Rijeka and part of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar county....

 in Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, in April of 1999. Rene Wouten found the bronze statue fully covered in sponges and sea life. No parts of the statue were missing, though its head was disconnected from the body. 1.92m long, the statue is currently thought to be a Hellenistic copy of Lysippos’ Apoxyomenos from the second or first century BCE; it is conserved in Zadar
Zadar is a city in Croatia on the Adriatic Sea. It is the centre of Zadar county and the wider northern Dalmatian region. Population of the city is 75,082 citizens...

 Museum as the 'Croatian Apoxyomenos (illustration, left).Valvanis, P. "Bronze statues from the depths of the sea." Tzalas 359-60. Great Moments in Greek Archaeology. Trans. David Hardy. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007. Print. It shares with the Ephesus bronze "the almost portrait-like individuality of the face, by no means a 'classical' type", with its broad, fleshy jaw and short chin and "hair made rough and unruly by sweat and dust".

An "excellent copy" of the head is conserved in the Hermitage Museum
Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display,...

. Another refined bronze head of an Apoxyomenos of this type (now in the Kimball Art Museum) had found its way into the collection of Bernardo Nani in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 in the early eighteenth century. Other antiquities in Nani's collection had come from the Peloponnesus; the Kimball Art Museum suggests that the Nani head may have come from mainland Greece too. The head, like the Croatian Apoxyomenos, has lips that were originally veneered with copper and his eyes were inlaid in glass, stone, and copper. Another half-dozen fragments of the Croatian/Kimball type suggests that this was the more popular apoxyomenos type in Antiquity, and that the famous Vatican Apoxyomenos (illustration above right), which reverses the pose, may be a variant of Lysippus' original.