Sep 17, 2010
Feb 6, 2012

Man Entwined by Two Snakes

Man Entwined by Two Snakes

c. 1527

attributed to Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone

(Italian, 1483/84–1539)

Pen and brown ink and brown and blue wash, heightened with white gouache

Support: Beige(2) laid paper prepared with blue watercolor and gouache

Sheet: 19.2 x 11.7 cm (7 9/16 x 4 5/8 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1944.475



According to contemporary accounts, Michelangelo attended the excavation of the Greek sculpture Laocoön and His Sons when it was unearthed near Rome in 1506. Laocoön was a Trojan priest who, along with his two sons, was attacked by sea serpents sent by the goddess Athena. The emotional agony of the sculpture fascinated Michelangelo and artists throughout Italy, inspiring copies and variations. In this drawing, a northern Italian artist referenced just one figure from the story using the chiaroscuro technique—achieved here with dark and light inks on blue toned paper—to emphasize the sculptural quality of the body.

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