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Belvedere Torso

The Belvedere Torso is a fragment of a nude male statue, signed prominently on the front of the base by "Apollonios, son of Nestor, Athenian", who is unmentioned in ancient literature. It is now in the Museo Pio-Clementino (Inv. 1192) of the Vatican Museums. It is a marble torso. According to the Vatican Museums website "the most favoured hypothesis identifies it with Ajax, the son of Telamon, in the act of contemplating his suicide".

The figure has traditionally been identified as a Heracles, seated on an animal skin, though in recent studies, the skin has been identified as that of a panther, not the Nemean lion, occasioning other identifications.

It was once believed to be a 1st-century BC original, but is now believed to be a copy from the 1st century BC or AD of an older statue, which probably dated to the early 2nd century BC. The statue's figure is portrayed seated on an animal hide; the exact figure represented remains open to debate (possibilities include Hercules, Polyphemus and Marsyas, among others).

The contorted pose of the torso and musculature were highly influential on late Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque artists, including Michelangelo and Raphael. Michelangelo's admiration of the Torso was widely known in his lifetime, to the extent that the Torso gained the sobriquet, "The School of Michelangelo"

Legend has it that Pope Julius II requested that Michelangelo complete the statue fragment with arms, legs and a face. He respectfully declined, stating that it was too beautiful to be altered, and instead used it as the inspiration for several of the figures in the Sistine Chapel, including, but not limited to, the Sibyls and Prophets bordering the ceiling. The Belvedere Torso remains one of the few ancient sculptures admired in the 17th and 18th centuries whose reputation has not suffered in modern times.

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Alternative titles "The Belvedere Torso"
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