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The present plaster cast of an antique statue is a copy of the original marble statue kept in the Louvre (Musée de Louvre, Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities, Inventory No. MR 315 (Ma 1207). In the seventeenth century, the statue was placed in the gardens of Pope Sixtus V in Rome, and then in Villa Montalto-Negroni. The statue was then deemed to be a likeness of Germanicus (Gaius Claudius Drusus Caesar Germanicus, 15 BC–19 AD). In 1685, through the agency of the painter Nicolas Poussin in Rome, it was purchased by the king of France, Louis XIV. Then it was restored by François Girardon (1628–1715) and placed in the Palace of Versailles, in the Hall of Mirrors.

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The present plaster cast of an antique statue is a copy of the original marble statue kept in the Louvre (Musée de Louvre, Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities, Inventory No. MR 315 (Ma 1207). In the seventeenth century, the statue was placed in the gardens of Pope Sixtus V in Rome, and then in Villa Montalto-Negroni. The statue was then deemed to be a likeness of Germanicus (Gaius Claudius Drusus Caesar Germanicus, 15 BC–19 AD). In 1685, through the agency of the painter Nicolas Poussin in Rome, it was purchased by the king of France, Louis XIV. Then it was restored by François Girardon (1628–1715) and placed in the Palace of Versailles, in the Hall of Mirrors.
The statue represents Gaius Claudius Marcellus (42 BC–23 AD), nephew of emperor Octavian Augustus. It was produced after the untimely death of Marcellus. The founder of the sculpture was the emperor himself, who intended to make his nephew his successor. The statue of Marcellus refers to the representations of the god Hermes in the Hermes Logios type, which was shaped in the classical period of Greek art (5th century BC). The prototype of this composition was supposed to be the statue of Hermes erected to honour the memory of Athenians fallen in the battle of Coronea in 447 BC during the Corinthian war ( 395 BC–387 BC). The allied forces of Thebes, Athens, Argos and Corinth were then defeated by the Spartan army under the command of King Agesilaus II. Below the drapery flowing down from the left hand of the statue there is a turtle – the attribute of Hermes and emblem of Aphrodite – on which the signature of the Athenian sculptor Cleomenes is visible.
A reference to classical Greek art was a part of the imperial propaganda of Octavian Augustus. The sculpture refers to the style of Polykleitos and presents Marcellus as a muscular young man. The nudity of the character is not a study of a nude figure understood as a study of the model’s body, but a kind of costume appropriate for heroes and gods.
The plaster cast of the figure of Germanicus is mentioned in 1838, among 44 plaster casts which were then owned by the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts. The presented statue of Marcellus is presumably identical to the cast of the Germanicus’s statue known from the sources – in the 19th century, the sculpture kept in the Louvre was still considered to be his image, not of Marcellus.
The prototype of the plaster copy was in the modern period one of the most well-known antique works and, therefore, was often imitated – the statues inspired by the Parisian Germanicus are among others at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg (Paolo Andrea Triscorni (1757–1833) and in the Nordkirchen Castle near Munich.

Elaborated by Adam Spodaryk (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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“Germanicus” – a plaster cast of an antique sculpture

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