|Image from wikipedia|
The Apollo Belvedere is a Greek marble sculpture 7'4" high which was rediscovered in Italy in the 15thC in the Renaissance period. It represents Apollo, Greek god of the sun, the name Apollo Belvedere comes from its position in the Vatican's Belvedere gallery.
Gombrich in his book The Story of Art states that the discovery of the Apollo Belvedere made a deep impression on art and art lovers. "......they stand before us like real human beings, and yet as beings from a different, better world. They are, in fact, beings from a different world, not because the Greeks were healthier or more beautiful than other men - there is no reason to think they were - but because art at that moment had reached a point at which the typical and the individual were poised in a new and delicate balance." (Gombrich:104) In this quote Gombrich describes the way skilful Greek sculptors effectively 'photoshopped' the parts they did not like from an individual model replacing it with an idealised version. The Apollo Belvedere epitomises this Greek ideal of the perfect man.
It's discovery was an important influence on the artists of the Renaissance who felt it defined aesthetic perfection. Michelangelo's David and the Creation of Adam on the cistine chapel have both drawn inspiration from this sculpture.
|Image from lib-art.com|
The sculpture not only influenced art works of the Renaissance but also theories. Albrecht Durer was a German painter and theorist whose treatise on principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions were influenced by his travels in Italy where he would undoubtedly have seen the Apollo.