The Sculpture Museum - Catalog - Page 24
Roman, 2nd century ad
Hermes, long known as the
Belvedere Antinoüs, marble
Vatican, Museo Pio Clementino
the finished image, it seems that the Renaissance always forces itself into the final
gaze. Another pointer to the sculptor is in the beautiful modelling and almost
feminine-like rendering of the elongated fingers and nails, which recall so many of
Prieur’s other small-scale bronzes.
This beautifully modelled bronze statuette is a fine version of the famous
antique marble Hermes in the Museo Pio Clementino (fig. 1). The idealized youth
was identified for a long time as Antinoüs, the favourite of Emperor Hadrian.
By April 1545, the Hermes was certainly in the Cortile Belvedere; however, there
are two main theories regarding the precise location of its initial discovery.
Aldrovandi thought that it had been found on the Esquiline Hill near San Martino
ai Monti, while Mercati disagreed, insisting that it had come from a garden near
the Castel Sant’Angelo (Haskell and Penny 1981, p. 141). Upon its discovery, it was
immediately acquired by Pope Paul III (1468–1549) and stood resplendent in the
great Belvedere courtyard of the Vatican until 1797, when it was handed over to the
French under the terms of the Treaty of Tolentino. However, the removal of the
sculpture to the Louvre was to be but a brief sojourn, for, not long after the statue