HEEMSKERCK, Maerten van
(b. 1498, Heemskerck, d. 1574, Haarlem)

The Belvedere Torso

Pen and ink on paper
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

The Belvedere Torso is a marble fragment showing the torso and upper legs of a powerful male figure seated on a rock. It is now in the Vatican Museums and named after the Belvedere Court in the Vatican in which it was once displayed. It is signed by a Greek sculptor 'Apollonius, son of Nestor, Athenian', about whom nothing is known, and there is scholarly debate as to whether it is an original Hellenistic work from the 1st century B.C. or a Roman copy.

Heemskerck's drawings of Roman ruins and Renaissance works provide us with important information about the appearance of Rome in the 1530s. When he saw the Belvedere Torso it was still lying on its back.