News Release

Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo

Friday, September 27, 2013
Opening September 29, the focus exhibition and book presents new scholarship about this ancient masterwork by Praxiteles

For more information, please contact:
Caroline Guscott, 216-707-2261, cguscott [at] clevelandart.org
Saeko Yamamoto, 216-707-6898, syamamoto [at] clevelandart.org

CLEVELAND (September 27, 2013) — Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo is an in-depth examination of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s ancient bronze sculpture, a figure known since antiquity as Apollo Sauroktonos, or Apollo the Lizard-Slayer. The masterwork will be showcased alongside two ancient Roman marble copies, one on loan from the Louvre Museum, Paris, France and the other from the Liverpool World Museum. This is noteworthy since all three sculptures have never been displayed together before. Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo will be presented September 29, 2013 through January 5, 2014 in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery.

“We are pleased to highlight one of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s finest masterpieces, arguably the greatest ancient sculpture in a North American public collection, in this exhibition,” said David Franklin, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “It is unprecedented to bring these works together, allowing visitors a rare opportunity to compare the Greek bronze and the Roman marble copies.”

In the first century AD, the Roman author Pliny the Elder wrote in his Natural History (34.69–70) that the famous fourth century BC Athenian sculptor Praxiteles had created a bronze sculpture depicting a youthful Apollo about to stab a lizard with an arrow. He used the epithet sauroktonos (lizard-slayer) to refer to Praxiteles’s masterpiece, and this sculptural type popular into the Roman Imperial period, appearing in marble copies and engraved on coins and gems. In 2004, the Cleveland Museum of Art acquired the only known bronze version of the sculptural type.

Through careful study and analysis, the museum has determined not only that Apollo Sauroktonos is almost certainly an original work made by Praxiteles, but also that expert investigations and laboratory tests of samples from the sculpture and its base conclusively prove that the sculpture was not a recent discovery and that it was not recovered from the sea. Additionally, research by Dr. Bennett indicates that the Apollo is not a sauroktonos at all, but rather a python-slayer, and that the sculpture was most likely originally installed in the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi.

“The Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi is the only place in the ancient world where this Python-Slayer by Praxiteles belongs. The sculpture represents Apollo’s victory over the Python, a triumph of order over chaos at the sacred place considered by the Greeks the Omphalos, the navel, or center, of the world,” said Dr. Michael Bennett, curator of Greek and Roman art.

Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo is accompanied by a 124-page book authored by Dr. Michael Bennett, in which he recounts in narrative form the discovery and acquisition of the Apollo as well as subsequent scholarly investigations leading to the renaming of the famous masterpiece. Bennett’s other publications include Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome (2013), Magna Graecia: Greek Art from South Italy and Sicily (2002), and Belted Heroes and Bound Women: The Myth of the Homeric Warrior-King (1997).

Support for the exhibition and publication provided by Malcolm E. Kenney.

Related Program
Gallery Talk, Wednesday, November 20, 7:00 p.m. Free.
Dr. Michael Bennett will conduct a tour of the focus exhibition, Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo. The exhibition includes Roman marble copies of the bronze original owned by the Cleveland Museum of Art. Dr. Bennett will explore topics discussed in his new book, published in association with the exhibition.

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About the Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes more than 63,000 artworks and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship and performing arts and is a leader in digital innovations. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation, recognized for its award-winning Open Access program and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the University Circle neighborhood.

The museum is supported in part by residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and made possible in part by the Ohio Arts Council (OAC), which receives support from the State of Ohio and the National Endowment for the Arts. The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally and economically. For more information about the museum and its holdings, programs and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit cma.org.