The Belvedere Torso Sculpture Dimensions, History & Facts
Located within the wonderful Vatican Museums, the Belvedere Torso is definitely worth stopping at when visiting the Vatican City.
The Belvedere Torso history is not 100% known, but it is thought that the torso sculpture has been in Rome since at least the 15th century.
This headless, armless and legless statue has more impact than you’d think. During your visit you can get up close and personal with this interesting work of art if you visit the Pio-Clementino Museum within the Vatican.
The Belvedere Torso History
It was originally thought that the sculpture was from the 1st Century before Christ, however now it is understood that it is a copy. Whatever its origins, the statue is surely impressive.
The Greek torso sculpture was created by Apollonius, the sculptor from Athens. So, you might hear of it referred to the Apollo Belvedere Torso. It was rediscovered in the mid 15th century in the private collection of Cardinal Prospero Colonna in Rome.
Famous fans of the Belvedere Torso
Throughout the 16th Century, many famous artists depicted the sculpture in paintings and other works of art. Michelangelo and Raphael amongst others used it as their muse in their pieces. Soon, Belvedere Torso drawings became en vogue.
Michelangelo is even rumoured to have been requested by a Pope to reconstruct the broken limbs of the statue. However, thankfully he said no and left the statue in its original glory. Not even the great Michelangelo thought he could do the statue justice!
Origin of the word “Belvedere”
The sculpture eventually became the muse for many figures in the Sistine Chapel.
The “Belvedere Torso” got its name as such when it entered the Vatican Belvedere collection at the Bramante designed Cortile del Belvedere. As such, it is often referred to as “El Torso de Belvedere”.
Torso of Belvedere Dimensions
The Belvedere Torso dimensions certainly impress. Although the figure on the sculpture has not got any limbs – or even a head – it still stands at over 5 feet 2 inches high.
The figure sits upon an animal hide, and it used to be purported that it was Heracles. More recent thinking has proposed that the figure depicted in the Torso Belvedere could be anyone from Hercules to Marsyas.
3 interesting Belvedere Torso Facts
Here are some top facts with which you can impress your friends!
1 – The signature on the Sculpture
Although the history of the statue is scant, there is a lucky find. Prominently displayed on the base of the statue are the words “Apollonius, son of Nestor, Athenian”.
The trouble is, no one really knows anything about him, but some traces can link him to having worked in Rome. It’s a bit strange for a sculptor to inscribe their details so evidently on the base, so let’s hope it’s not just some random ancient graffiti!
2 – Sistine Chapel inspired by the Belvedere Torso
Throughout the Sistine Chapel there are believed to be references to the Statue. Michelangelo used the statue as the muse for many figures that you can recognise.
When you are visiting the Vatican Museums do not miss the Sistine Chapel. Here, you can point out to your friends the resemblance of the torso popping up in scenes such as Adam in the “Creation of Adam” and in the Last Judgement (Saint Bartholomew).
3 – About the drawings
During the 16th century several artists used the torso as a way to inspire their works. There are dozens of artists who used the statue in their works, including Amico Aspertini and Giovanni Antonio da Brescia. Drawings of the Torso Statue are works of art in themselves.
The enormous influence of the Torso of Belvedere
It is therefore clear that the Belvedere Torso has been a huge influence on Baroque and Renaissance art.
Aside from its most famous influence on the Sistine Chapel, and the muses and drawings from dozens of artists, the statue became known as the School of Michelangelo.
The Torso is so important that it takes pride of place in the Sala della Muse in the Pio-Clementino Museum.
Visiting El Torso De Belvedere – top tips
We’ve an extensive guide dedicated to helping you choose the best Vatican museum tickets right here. Make sure you plan enough time in your trip – you might find that skip the line tickets might be useful (check price online), or perhaps you want to take a guided tour (available here). The audio guide tour by your own is also a good option (tickets here).
Here’s our list of answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about the Statue:
When was the Belvedere torso made?
It is not actually known just when it was made. There is no date on the inscription. It is however thought to be a copy of a bronze second century statue. The modern story of the sculpture begins in the 5th Century when it turned up in Rome.
Who made the Belvedere torso?
The inscription on the base of the sculpture reads that Apollo created it. Little is known about Apollonius, apart from that he came from Athens and was the son of Nestor.
Where is the Belvedere Torso?
You can visit it in the Vatican museums. It is located within the extensive Pio Clementino Museum complex. Check out the statue in the Hall of Muses.
What does Belvedere Torso mean?
It means “Beautiful Torso”.
Now you know everything there is to know about the Belvedere Torso, get booking your tickets here now.
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Fanny, a devoted art enthusiast and world traveler, has been exploring Vatican City’s treasures since 2012. As the founder and chief editor of the Visit Vatican blog, she’s dedicated to sharing the finest cultural and historical experiences of this iconic destination.