Cast of Apoxyomenos, late 19th century
After Unidentified Roman sculptor
RA Collection: Art
This cast is taken from the marble statue Apoxyomenos. The term ‘apoxyomenos’ comes from a Greek verb meaning ‘to clean oneself’. This statue depicts an athlete scraping oil from his body with a spoon-like implement called a strigil (missing).
Apoxyomenos was made around the year 50 A.D. and is a Roman marble copy of the bronze masterpiece by Lysippus in his later years, around 320 B.C. It was found in Trastavere, Rome in 1849 during the excavation of buildings from the imperial era, and, while initially claimed to be an autograph work by Lysippus, quickly agreed to be a copy. It was discussed by Jacob Burckhardt in his influential book Cicerone.
One of the most celebrated sculptures of classical antiquity, Pliny recorded that Marcus Agrippa had the sculpture installed in his public baths in Rome, c. 20 BC. The emperor Tiberius (ruled 14-37 A.D.) admired the figure so intensely that he had it removed to his private residence, replacing it with another statue. His action provoked a great outcry and he was shamed into returning the sculpture to the Baths of Agrippa.
Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981)
Pliny the Elder, Natural History
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