Statue of Apollo Sauroktonos


About this object

Statue of Apollo Sauroktonos (Lizard-killer). The head and the body are from separate statues, and the head could be a female head or from a statue of Eros. The statue is probably a Roman copy of a bronze by Praxiteles, the original dating to c.350 BC, although never been found and only known in a mention by Pliny the Elder. There are different versions of the same topic from the Borghese villa and now in the Louvre, the villa Albani and the Vatican museum. The Albani bronze version seem to have been used for the restoration of the Ince piece.The gestures of both hands and the open pose of the left arm are the same as the Albani version. Certain peculiarities on the head (the hairband rounded on the left and flat on the right, the disparity of the thick curls of the face with those less indicated on the crown, the tiny knobs of hair emerging from under the band and the plait of hair behind the right ear seem) indicate that the ancient head was of a different Apollo and was propably reworked to fit the Albani type. The Ince statue is different to the other versions in that the left foot turns out rather than being lined up behind the right.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    1st Century AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    1690 mm x 1000 mm x 900 mm x 443 kg
  • Note
    The statue was recorded as having been found near Rome by Gavin Hamilton in 1777 during excavations conducted for Pope Pius VI on the site of the Villa Magnani on the Palatine Hill, along with the statue now in the Vatican. It was then sold to Robert Heathcote, probably before Hamilton's death in 1798 during one of Hamilton's last trips to England . It was acquired by Blundell from Heathcote, post 1803. The statue is included in the engravings but not on the Account. In the engravings volume Blundell mentioned that a cast of it was taken at the Royal Academy in London by the sculptor (Thomas) Banks. Preisshofen suggested that the Ince Apollo is a second version of the statue found at the Palatine in 1776 and now in the Vatican Museum (Vatican Museums. Statue Gallery No. 264, Inventory Number 750). It is possible that the Ince statue is one of the two statues found in the Palatine, Villa Magnani in rooms that belonged to Domus Flavia. The second version was less well preserved and missing the limbs and head which in the Ince piece are restored. Hamilton may have been involved with the sale as a dealer rather than the excavator because the rights for the excavation of the site belonged to the Frenchman Abbe Rancourei. It could also be that the head may had been found at the Palatine in more recent times. Michael Bennett of the Cleveland Art Museum has suggested that the original creature may have been a python. Note that an incorrect accession number - 1959.148.558 - was published in Southworth 1998.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Gavin Hamilton ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


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    Date: 1929
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    Author: Vermeule, C; von Bothmer, D
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  • Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo

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    Author: Bennett, Michael
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    Date: 2013
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    Author: Southworth, E
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    Date: 1991

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    Author: Bartman, Elizabeth
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Date: 2017
    Description: This book investigates the important antiquities collection formed by Henry Blundell of Ince Blundell Hall, near Liverpool, in the late eighteenth century. Consisting of more than 500 ancient marbles - the UK's largest collection of Roman sculptures after that of the British Museum - the collection was assembled primarily in Italy during Blundell's various 'Grant Tour' visits. As ancient statues were the preeminent souvenir of the Grand Tour, Blundell has strong competition from other collectors, British nobility and European aristocrats, monarchs, and the Pope. His statues represent a typical cross section of sculptures that would have decorated ancient Roman houses, villas, public spaces and even tombs, although their precise origins are largely unknown. Most are likely to have come from Rome and at least one was found at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli.


  • Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo

    Start date: 2013-09-29
    End date: 2013-09-29
    Description: The Cleveland Museum of Art's ancient bronze sculpture Apollo the Python-Slayer from about 350 BC is the subject of a focus exhibition in 2013. The Apollo is the only surviving bronze version of this famous sculptural type described by the first-century Roman author Pliny the Elder. The exhibition and accompanying book will examine the famous sculpture from a number of perspectives—from its technical features and iconography to its importance for understanding the legacy of Praxiteles.


Previous owners

  • Joseph William Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: By descent
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
  • Gavin Hamilton

    Owned from: 1777
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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