The Vatican Museums started with a nucleus of statues brought in 1503 by the newly elected Pope Julius II. An immediate success, with art being available to many, people came here to learn about classical art, artists to look for inspiration.
Michelangelo himself was a fervent student of the Belvedere Torso, a bundle of fierce muscles and unreleased power that would inspire him to paint Christ in the Last Judgment. The Apollo Belvedere was considered one of the most elegant statues of the collection, with its perfect proportions and the drape that resembles more silk than marble.
The Lacoon group, unearthed in a vineyard 1506, was famous even before its discovery, as described by the historian Pliny as “a work that is to be preferred to all those produced from painting and sculpture “. Julius successors were anxious to leave their tribute to the collection.
Porphyry, one of the hardest materials to carve, is the element of Helena and Constantia’s sarcophagi, as well as Nero’s basin. Statues and busts of patricians and emperors are still today meticulously arranged in interminable displays.
The bronze Hercules is one of the few pieces that escaped the common destiny of being recycled into set of cannon balls and bullets. Some absolute highlights are hidden in the Galleries; spend time to find yours.