FRANCAVILLA, Pietro
(b. 1548, Cambrai, d. 1615, Paris)

Apollo

1577
Marble, height 185 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The life-size marble statue of Apollo, with one knee on a tree stump, is shown leaning on a lyre, which rests on a tree stump, with his right leg raised and resting on another part of the stump. The lyre symbolises Apollo the patron of poetry, music and leader of the Muses. Over his right shoulder is a robe, which he holds with his right hand and which partly covers the lyre. In his left hand he holds a bunch of leaves. He wears a crown of laurel leaves, awarded for achievement in the arts.

This statue is one of a series of thirteen marbles commissioned from Francavilla by Antonio di Zanobi Bracci in 1574 on the recommendation of the sculptor Giambologna for the garden of the Villa Bracci at Rovezzano, near Florence. The statues were acquired in 1750 by Frederick, Prince of Wales. The crated sculptures were transported to Kew, and in 1786 were apparently still in their crates and stored in a shed.

Apollo and Zephyr were discovered in the grounds at Kew in 1852, and underwent restoration by the sculptor Thomas Thorneycroft (1815-1885). They are lent to the museum by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.