Laocoon and his sons

Article

January 24, 2022

"Laocoon and his sons" - a sculptural group depicting the mortal struggle of Laocoon and his sons with snakes. An outstanding work of ancient art of the Hellenistic era by the Greek sculptors of the Rhodes school: Agesander, Polydorus and Athenodorus. It is considered a marble copy of the second half of the 1st century BC. e. from the original, which was made in bronze in 200 BC. e. in Pergamon. The original has not been preserved. Exhibited in the Octagonal Courtyard of the Vatican Museum Pio-Clementino.

History of the find

A Roman copy was found on January 14, 1506 by Felice de Fredis in the vineyards of Esquiline, underground on the site of the Golden House of Nero. Pope Julius II, having learned about the find, immediately sent for it the architect Giuliano da Sangallo and the sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti. Sangallo confirmed the authenticity of the work with the words: "This is Laocoön, whom Pliny mentions." Michelangelo determined that the sculpture was made from two pieces of marble, although Pliny claimed that it was from a single block.

Further fate and influence on culture

Already in March 1506, the sculptural group was handed over to the Pope. He installed it in the Vatican Belvedere, ordering a special niche to be built for it (architect Giuliano da Sangallo). The complicated composition became the subject of admiration for the artists of the Mannerist era and gave rise to a fashion for images of the human body (figura serpentinata) that are intricately twisted in a whirlwind movement. In 1532, Laocoön's lost right hand was recreated by a student of Michelangelo Montorsori in an extended position. In 1725-1727 the hands of the sons were also replaced. In 1906, the right hand of Laokonoa (bent) was found near the location of the sculpture. In 1980, the recreated limbs of Laokon and sons were removed and the historic arm was restored. In July 1798, the Vatican Laocoon was transported to Paris under the terms of the Treaty of Tolentino (1797) between Napoleon and the Pope as an indemnity. The sculpture was placed in the Napoleon Museum (Louvre). On November 9, 1800, it was opened to the public. Only in 1816, after the fall of Napoleon, the sculpture was returned to the Vatican by the British. The Laocoön was the subject of Gotthold Lessing's aesthetic treatise Laocoön, or On the Limits of Painting and

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