If it were not displayed in the center of the room, it would be easy to overlook this broken, battered, and scarred chunk of rock. That would be a mistake. The Belvedere Torso is one of the few original Greek sculptures left.
Michelangelo thought it was so beautiful that when the Pope asked him to restore the statue, Michelangelo refused to alter it in any way. This chunk of rock taught him more than any human teacher could. By the time he was in his late 20’s, Michelangelo had surpassed every living sculptor, and the only way he could continue to improve was by studying the work of the ancient Greeks.
Even though it is signed, we don’t know anything about the sculptor, Apollonios son of Nestor, or even for sure what the statue represents – Hercules is as good a guess as any.
Take a mental picture of this statue. You’ll see it again in Michelangelo's painting of The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.
(excerpted from the forthcoming Hand Crafted Walks in Rome & the Vatican)
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