Project Description


Apollo is the god of poetry and in this capacity he is playing the Lyra raising his bow aloft. His green mantle, it’s edge decorated with thin gold thread, matches his laurel crown, which alludes to the transformation of the nymph Daphne into the tree that had become secret to him. This famous mythological story is depicted in the left background of the painting, where Daphne, the daughter of mother earth and the river God Peneus or, according to another tradition the river God Ladon, is fleeing from the attention of Apollo. This flight coincides with her metamorphosis into a Laurel tree.

With the anatomical study of his body, seated and bent forward, Apollo’s pose is clearly derived from that of the Belvedere Torso (Vatican Museum). On the other hand, it has been observed that the instrument that Apollo is about to play a lyre, had already been depicted by Raphael. The present canvas comes from the bequest of Cardinal Capponi, as has recently been demonstrated thanks to an archive document. Although between 1623 and 1633 it was part of Cardinal Ludovisi’s collection, earlier it may have belong to Cardinal Scipione; following the dismemberment of the collection, the painting was purchased by Cardinal Borghese.