Apollo Statue in the RISD Museum

From the very moment of entering the RISD museum I was astounded. It seemed to be small from the outside, however inside it had a lot to offer. There is a wide range of artworks starting with famous artists like Rembrandt, Monet, Matisse, Rothko and finishing with local art exhibitions. The museum consists of five buildings: Waterman Building, Pendleton House, Radeke Building, Farago Wing, and Chace Center and is located in Providence, RI. As I wandered around the halls of the museum, I enjoyed inspiring exhibits on the Blue Wall, the "Grand Salon", Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greek and Roman Galleries, Costume and Textile galleries, and others. However, my eye was caught by the Statue of Apollo in the European gallery. The statue is magnificent, breathtaking and deep both historically and emotionally. Therefore, I have decided to analyze Apollo in three ways, the actual appearance of the statue, its historical background, and influence it had on me.

Historical Research

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Apollo statue is a statue of a young man and a Greek god. This is a very elegant and soft-angled depiction of a nude man wearing only silver boots. It is a small statue around seven and a half inches tall. The statue is made of bronze with silver and gilt. Bronze is used for the base of the statue with gold-covered body and silver-covered boots. In addition, boots are decorated with lion masks. The statue is ancient and has an old-world flavor. In some places bronze is visible through peeled off gold and silver. The body of the statue is muscular and fit. His position is soft and his hands are formed as if he is supposed to hold something. As Apollo is the god of music, he is often depicted with lyre. However, he could hold other objects, e.g. an arrow or bow. This statue located in the European gallery is well-lighted, thus it draws attention of those who pass through the room. The shine of Apollo’s golden body is seen from a distance calling for viewers.

Apollo statue dates back to the sixteen century, the Renaissance period. Art of this period is often characterized as “a revival of the classical forms originally developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and an intensified concern with secular life–interest in humanism and assertion of the importance of the individual” (Renaissance art and architecture, 2000). The author of Apollo is unknown; however, he or she is considered to come from the Northern Italy (Apollo, n.d.). Moreover, Italian Renaissance sculpture primarily was oriented on the depiction of the human body, mainly male nudity, Donatello and Michelangelo being the brightest examples (Renaissance art in Italy, n.d.). Apollo is a clear illustration of its period and location. First of all, the statue refers to the ancient Greek culture and focuses on the importance and uniqueness of the individual – the features that are characteristic to the Renaissance culture. And secondly, it is a depiction of a nude human body, as Italian Renaissance dictated it. It is also important to consider the figure of Apollo as an individual. Apollo is one of the Ancient Greek Olympian gods (Apollo, the god of the sun and the music, n.d.). He is a son of Zeus, the king of all gods, and Titaness Leto. Apollo is the god of Sun, prophecy, and music. He plays lyre and “excelled in important music contests” (Apollo, the god of the sun and the music, n.d.). Moreover, he is the one who invented an instrument called lute. Apollo was given a gift of prophecy from his father and is often described as “a handsome, strong and youthful god with impressive golden hair” (Apollo, the god of the sun and the music, n.d.).

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Personal Attitude

The Apollo statue is a magnificent piece of art. I have always enjoyed the works of Michelangelo and Donatello. Even though the author of the Apollo is unknown, the statue certainly has a professional touch. It brings out the history and art tradition of the Renaissance period. I think that Apollo is professionally crafted being a great representation of the Italian sculpturing. I believe that Italian Renaissance is one of the brightest times in the entire history of art and design. It is a period of the greatest artists and such art works as The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, The Creation of Adam and David by Michelangelo, the design of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Moreover, I am very keen of Greek mythology. Apollo is a strong and very important figure of Olympus and reminds me of the great heroic times in Greece. All in all, I think that Apollo statue embodies talent and philosophy of Renaissance.


Apollo statue has been a part of the of St. Peter's Basilica for many years. This statue was a gift to Michelangelo. As Michelangelo was working on his design of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, his friend brought him a carefully crafted statue of Apollo. Michelangelo gratefully accepted the gift. However, later the Catholic Church did not approve the statue of the Greek god and, therefore, hid it in the basement for many years. As the Vatican Historical Museum was founded, more and more art pieces were collected and pulled from the basements of churches. When the historians found Apollo statue they decided that because of its small size the statue will not be largely appreciated in such a huge museum. As a result, Apollo statue traveled around the world and was owned by various people. When Mrs. Murray S. Danforth got this statue, she understood that it was a great peace of art that should be shared with the society.

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I think that Steven Halpern’s Apollo's Lyre is a perfect song to enrich the experience of viewing the Apollo statue (TheAztecLast, 2010). The song triggers the emotions and provokes imagination. The lyre playing can bring you to one of the music contests on the Olympus. The god of music Apollo takes his lyre and performs a magnificent song. This is music of Greek gods. Soft sounds of lyre like the soft angles of the statue bring Apollo to life. This song highlights the statue and takes you back in time to the very beginning – to Olympus.

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