The Plaster Casts


A. Plaster Casts (full size replicas)

Apollo Belvedere

Modern plaster replica of a Roman marble copy of a Greek bronze original of ca. 330 B.C., usually associated with the sculptor Leochares. According to the small metal oval in the base, the cast was purchased from the Caproni Bros. cast company of Boston probably in 1885.

This statue of Apollo, Greek god of music, poetry and archery, was one of the first Classical works put on display in the Vatican in the 16th century, where it formed part of the collection of Pope Julius II. It takes its name from the Belvedere Court, the Court of the "Beautiful View," designed by the Renaissance architect Bramante, where it may still be seen. The statue shows Apollo as a handsome youth, who held a bow in his outstretched hand. The prominent fig-leaf is not original, but was added in the Renaissance; it was removed from the original when the piece was being cleaned for its trip to the United States in 1983 for the Vatican Show.

"Venus di Milo" (Aphrodite found on Melos)

Modern plaster replica of the Greek marble original of ca. 150 B.C. now located in the Louvre Museum, Paris. The cast was made in London by D. Brucciani & Co. (founded by Domenico Brucciani in 1864) according to a large metal plate in the front of the base; a number (2377) incised or stamped in the upper left corner of the front of the base may refer to a Brucciani catalogue number or to a production number (cf. the "Germanicus"; a similar Venus cast is in the University of Denver Art Collections with the number 1255). The cast was purchased by Professor Wilcox in 1885 -- it is one of the five original casts when the collection was dedicated in 1888.

The statue was discovered in a gymnasium belonging to the city of Melos on the island of Melos (April 8, 1820). Aphrodite had been placed in a niche or alcove (her back was left unfinished). Found with her was the base inscribed "]andros son of Ênidos of Antioch on the Meander" (the first part of the name is not preserved).

When French archaeologists purchased the statue from the Greek authorities of the island, they donated it to Louis XVIII who placed it in the Louvre. At first, French art historians were convinced the statue was classical (5th century), but after the base was published (and subsequently lost), it was clear that, since Antioch on the Meander (southwest Turkey) was founded at the end of the 4th century, the statue was instead Hellenistic. Even though the French art establishment was shocked by this revelation, the piece has enjoyed enormous popularity.

The once surviving base also included a short piller which would have supported her lowered left arm -- very likely her left hand held an apple, appropriate to Aprhodite since she won the gold apple left "for the fairest goddess of them all" and also because "mêlon," the Greek word for apple, is also a pun on the name of the island, "Melos."

The original statue is in two blocks of marble, the toros and head separate from the legs swathed in drapery. The cast is also in two parts with an added short piece across the front of the base to supply a restored left foot (not extant in the original).

The piece represents a mature version of the goddess of love and beauty, in the open or centrifugal pose known in other works of the second half of the 2nd century B.C. Her right hand reaches down to gather her slipping drapery; her left arm rested on a pillar and in her left hand she probably held an apple (see above).

A legend has it that the arms of the Venus were lost in the harbor at Melos when the statue was being hoisted aboard ship. A Greek-American from Milwaukee mounted an underwater expedition in the harbor in the hope of restoring the arms to his native island's main claim to fame, but, though a hand holding an apple was recovered, it was too small to have belonged to this Venus.

Gregory Curtis, Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo. New York 2003.

Satyr by Praxiteles

Modern plaster replica of a marble Roman copy of a Greek original of the late 4th century B.C. by a sculptor working in the style of Praxiteles. According to the small metal oval in the base, the cast was purchased from the Caproni Bros. cast company of Boston probably in 1885. The Roman copy of the original that this cast copies is located in the Capitoline Museum, Rome.

Satyrs were followers of Dionysos (Bacchus), spirited and lusty, with pointed donkey ears and tail indicating their strong animal instincts. With its playful mood and soft, sinuous S-curved stance in the Praxitelean manner, the piece was much favored by the Romans for their homes and gardens and over 100 copies are extant.

Jones, Stuart. The Sculpture of the Museo Capitolino. The British School at Rome Oxford 1912, pp. 350-351.
Smith, R.R.R. Hellenistic Sculpture. London 2001, pp. 12-31.

Hermes & Infant Dionysos by Praxiteles

Modern plaster replica of a marble work found by a German excavation team at the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia in 1877. According to the small metal oval in the base, the cast was purchased from the Caproni Bros. cast company of Boston probably in 1885.

Long thought to be an original of ca. 330/320 B.C, by one of the most well-known sculptors of the fourth century, Praxiteles, the work is now thought on stylistic grounds to date to ca. 100 B.C. and be either a close copy of the original, which was looted from the sanctuary, or an original of a much later Praxiteles, working in the soft, sensuous style of his namesake. Hermes (Mercury), messenger of the gods, is shown carrying Dionysos (Bacchus), the infant son of Zeus, to the nymphs who will raise him to maturity. Hermes is shown holding in his upraised hand a bunch of grapes, already of interest to the baby who will become the god of the vine and its fruit. The original is in the Archaeological Museum at Olympia.

Discus Thrower (Discobolos) by Myron

Modern plaster replica of Roman copy of bronze original of ca. 460 B.C. by the sculptor Myron. One of many statues of athletes who were much honored by the ancient Greeks for their talents, the original was probably commissioned by one of the Greek city-states for a young citizen who had brought distinction to his home by winning the disc-throwing competition at one of the great Panhellenic festivals, like the Olympic Games. Several versions of the work are known, one of which can be seen at the Vatican in Rome.

"Germanicus" of Kleomenes

Modem plaster replica of the Roman original of ca. 50 B.C. by the sculptor Kleomenes; the cast has an incised or stamped number (2379) in the upper left corner of the front of the base; this resembles the number stamped into the front of the Venus di Milo and may imply that this statue too was purchased from the Brucciani cast company of London.

The statue, erroneously identified as Germanicus, a member of the family of the Emperor Augustus, probably should be considered a portrait of a member of a wealthy family of the late Republic, here represented with a body copied from a well-known statue of the god Hermes (Mercury), the Orator, which stood in Athens. The tortoise below the drapery at the right alludes to Hermes' invention of the lyre for which the shell served as sounding board; the god appears to be holding a plectrum in his right hand to strike the strings of the lyre. The work is executed in the classicizing style popular in the 1st century B.C. when sculptors like Kleomenes looked for inspiration to the masters of the 5th and 4th centuries in Greece. The original is in the Louvre, Paris.


Lining the roads leading away from Classical Athens were funerary monuments of marble commemorating the wealthy dead of the city. This modern plaster replica of one such tombstone, which dates ca. 400 B.C., honored a woman named Hegeso, wife (or daughter) of Proxenos, according to the inscription. The dead woman is shown seated on a graceful chair; her maidservant holds a box from which she selects jewelry for her final journey to the Underworld. The original is in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice

Orpheus, the musician and magician, married Eurydice, who died of a snake bite. After wooing Hades with his music, Orpheus was granted the right to bring her back to the world, but only if he never looks at her until they emerge into the sunlight. But at the minute, just about to emerge into daylight, Orpheus looks back to be sure she was following him out of Hades.

This relief, dating from sometime in the last half of the 5th century BCE, depicts Orpheus and Eurydice as they say their final farewell; Hermes, guide of the dead, takes the woman by the hand to lead her back to Hades.

The modern plaster replica adapts (Orpheus's foot is slightly angled) a Roman marble copy in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples of a Greek original of ca. 420 B.C.

HOMER (bust)

Modern plaster replica of a late Hellenistic work of ca. 100 B.C. One of several totally imaginative portraits of the blind poet of Chios who lived and worked in the late 8th century B.C. Composing his epics the Iliad and the Odyssey orally, Homer was in a line of bards in a tradition which stretched from the Mycenaean era of the 13th/12th centuries B.C. into the 7th century B.C. One of the well-preserved Roman copies of this version of the Homer portrait is in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

APOLLO (head)

Modern plaster replica of the head of Apollo from his statue in the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic games in the northwestern Peloponnese. The focal point of the religious celebration held in connection with the games was the great Doric temple which housed the chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue of Zeus by Pheidias, heralded in later antiquity as one of the "Seven Wonders" of the ancient world. The presiding deity, his sons Apollo and Herakles, and athletic competition provided the subjects for the figures in the pedimental sculpture and on the metopes which decorated the exterior of the temple which dates to ca. 460 B.C. High in the west pediment, Apollo presided over the combat of the half-man, half-horse centaurs with their Greek hosts the Lapiths at a wedding feast. These mythological wrestlers can be seen in the two metopes from the Parthenon on the east wall of this room. The original marble Apollo is in the Archaeological Museum adjacent to the ancient site at Olympia.

Heads of Roman Emperors

the young Augustus (ruled 27 BCE - 14 CE); mature Augustus (head from the Primaporta statue in the Vatican); Nero (ruled 54-68 CE)

Heads of Roman Emperors

Anna Galeria Faustina the Younger (ca. 130-175 CE), daughter of Antoninus Pius, wife of Marcus Aurelius, and mother of Commodus. After her death, Marcus Aurelius had her deified and the city in which she died (Halala in Cappadocia) renamed Faustinopolis.

Marcus Aurelius (born 121, ruled 161-180 CE).

Commodus Commodus (born 161, ruled 180-193 CE).

Head of Commodus


Head of Publius Aelius Hadrianus ("Hadrian"), (born 76, ruled 117-138 CE)

Head of Trajan


Head of Athena Medici


Head of Athena Lemnia


B. Plaster Casts of Sculpture from the Parthenon, all apparently purchased from the Caproni cast company of Boston, according to the small metal oval set in some of the casts.

The Parthenon was built 449-438 BCE; it was dedicated in 438 when the Parthenos statue inside was also dedicated. The pedimental sculptures, however, were installed in 432.

The building consists of an inner set of rooms (the 'cella' divided into a large east room and a smaller west room) surrounded by a colonnade. Above the colonnade were sculpted panels, "metopes," depicting a battle of Greeks and Centaurs on the south (the Wilcox has two panels from this set, South 28 and South 30 [depicted here], height 1.40 m), a battle of Greeks and Amazons on the west, the sack of Troy on the north, and the battle of gods and giants on the east.

Around the exterior top of the cella wall was a continuous sculpted frieze (3 feet high and over 500 feet long), depicting the Panathenaic procession of all Athenians that took place every 4 years. The purpose of the procession was to give a new gown to the cult statue of Athena (housed in the Erechtheion, a temple on the north edge of the Akropolis). The Wilcox possesses a couple of slabs of the north frieze showing young men on horses, and all of the east frieze depicting the gods assembled while the old gown is being folded up for storage. The panel illustrated here shows Poseidon, Apollo, and Artemis.

Sculptures in the west pediment depicted the contest of Athena and Poseidon for control of Athens, while those in the east depicted the birth of Athena.

East Pediment: Dionysos or Theseus

This is a plaster copy of a sculpture on the east pediment of the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The male figure is reclining on an animal skin. If it is lion, this represents Theseus. If it is panther, it represents Dionysos. The right arm is missing, but the shoulder is positioned to be outstretched with a kylix (drinking cup) in hand. This is an older god than the Dionysos seen in the interior friezes, more late 20's than early 20's.

South metope 28

Centauromachy scene cast from a metope on the south end of the Parthenon, on the acropolis in Athens, Greece. A centaur figure stands triumphantly over a nude fallen Lapith male in high relief, almost in the round. The head, right arm, front legs, and back right hoof are missing from the centaur. The Lapith's face, right knee, and right hand are gone. The centaur holds a lion skin draped over his left arm. The centaur is rearing over the fallen Lapith with arms outstretched, caught in the moment before trampling his opponent. The original metope was made in 447-433 BCE.

South metope 30

Centauromachy scene cast from a metope on the south end of the Parthenon, on the acropolis in Athens, Greece. A nude Lapith male is resting on his left heel while trying to hold off the centaur with his right arm and grips a rock in his limp left arm. The centaur stands over him, his left hand holding the Lapith's hair to keep his head steady. His right arm, though broken off, is stretched back to strike the Lapith. The right front and back legs of the centaur are missing. The two figures are in high relief, almost independent of the background. The centaur's face is bearded and elderly. The Lapith's face is young and beardless. Both show minimal expression. The drapery falling off the Lapith is extremely stylized. The original was made in 447-433 BCE.

North Frieze

This is a portion of the north frieze in the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Series of frieze slabs depicting young men on horseback are in shallow relief. The horses and riders are highly stylized. The proportions are awkward on the horses, with legs too delicate for their bulky bodies. Figures are interacting and direct the viewer's gaze in the same direction, as a part of the overall procession of the friezes. The original frieze was made in 447-433 BCE.

East Frieze

These plaster copies are a complete series of frieze slabs from the east end of the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The friezes are in shallow relief, but still create realistic depth and form. In the center of the alignment there is the mysterious peplos folding slabs. A scene of an adult and child exchanging the peplos (ceremonial garment for Athena) and of two girls carrying bundles balanced on their heads, with a woman extending an arm to take some, occupy the two center slabs. This scene was a key moment in the Panathenaic procession, which took place regularly every four years. On either side of this scene are depictions of the gods. To the southeast is recognizably Zeus, bearded, talking with Hera, who is wearing a veil to show she is the perpetual bride. On Hera's other side is Nike, her young daughter. Next to Nike, Ares sits impatiently, eager for action. Demeter is next to him; chin resting as she waits for her daughter Persephone, across from Dionysos, whose arm is raised to lift a missing handful of grapes. Hermes sits on the other side of Dionysos, so they are back to back as Dionysos twists in his seat to chat. Hermes is marked by his sandals. After Hermes, a mortal procession continues with paiderastic couples of older men and young boys. The distinction between ages is marked by use of beards. To the southwest of the center scene is the figure of Athena sitting next to Hephaestus. He is marked by his crutch as the lame god. Next to him is Poseidon, always depicted as a bearded god. Moving along is Apollo sitting next to his sister Artemis, who is shockingly intimate with Aphrodite next to her. The young son of Aphrodite, Eros, concludes the god procession. A mortal procession continues here also. The original was made in 447-433 BCE.

J. Boardman, The Parthenon and Its Sculptures. London 1985.
M. Robertson & A. Frantz, The Sculptures of the Parthenon. London 1963.
E.G. Pemberton, "The Gods of the East Parthenon Frieze," American Journal of Archaeology 80.2 (1976) 113-24.

B. Plaster Casts (reduced size replicas)

Nike ("Victory") of Samothrace

Modern plaster replica (given to the collection by the KU Department of French and Italian. ) at reduced scale of a Greek original of ca. 190 B.C. According to the small metal oval in the back, the cast was purchased from the Caproni Bros. cast company of Boston probably in 1885.

The original statue, of Rhodian marble, stood at the top of the theater in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace. Nearby was found an inscription that bears the name of the sculptor Pythokritos of Rhodes. Perhaps the inscription names the sculptor of the Nike.

The statue was discovered in 1863 by the French archaeologist Charles Champoiseau and sent to the Louvre. Today, along with the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa (Ridgway 1990:150), it is one of the biggest attractions at the Louvre.

The statue represents Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory, alighting on the prow of a ship. With the wind pressing her garments against her body, and her wings swept back, she looks as if she is leading the ship into battle and victory.

The arms and head are missing, and the Nike was originally believed to have been blowing a victory "paean", or a hymn of triumph, on a trumpet. However, both hands have been recovered and both were found empty.

It is possible that the Victory may have commemorated a Rhodian naval victory ca. 190 BC of the citizens of the island of Rhodes over King Antiochos of Syria.

M. Bieber. The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age (rev. ed.). New York 1955, pp. 124-6.
B.S. Ridgway. Hellenistic Sculpture, II. Madison 1990, pp. 150-4.
R.R.R. Smith, Hellenistic Sculpture. New York 2001, pp. 71-9.

Dancing Satyr or Faun

Modern plaster replica of Roman bronze original from the House of the Faun at Pompeii, dating ca. 150 B.C. According to the small metal oval in the underside of the base, the cast was purchased from the Caproni Bros. cast company of Boston probably in 1885.

The torsional pose of the piece associates it with late 4th and early 3rd centuries B.C. works from the school of the Greek sculptor Lysippos, who introduced a new three-dimensionality and movement into his work in contrast to the static calm of sculpture of the 5th century. The original is in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

Nike ("Victory") of Paionios

Modern plaster replica at reduced scale and with face and wings restored of a Greek marble original of ca. 421 B.C. by a sculptor from Thrace, Paionios of Mende.

This statue of the goddess of victory, Nike, was set up in the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia on a triangular piller (H. 10 m) directly in front of the Temple. An inscription on one of the lower blocks states, "The Messenians and Naupactians dedicated this to Olympian Zeus, a tithe from the spoils of war. Paionios of Mende made this, and won the commission to make the akroteria for the temple." The exact battle referred to is not known, but may honor the participation of Messenians and Naupaktians at the battle of Pylos (415 BCE). Who Paionios was is not known, but he has been suggested as the sculptor of the frieze from the Temple of Apollo at Bassae.

Raised on a high pillar, the goddess (H. 1.98 m) was shown sweeping through the air with the eagle of Zeus at her feet, her drapery pressed against her body by the force of the wind and flying out to form a dramatic frame behind her. With its modified "contrapposto" pose and "wet drapery" the piece illustrates trends which developed in Greek sculpture in the later 5th century B.C.

The original, highly fragmentary, is in the Archaeological Museum at Olympia.

II. In the Department of Classics (Wescoe, 1st floor)

Nude youth in Polykleitan Style

Modern plaster replica of Roman marble copy of bronze original of the 2nd half of the 5th century B.C. In the style of the sculptor Polykleitos, the piece shows the "contrapposto" or balanced pose for which he was famous and which he embodied most notably in his Doryphoros (Spearbearer), also known as the "Canon." In the Wilcox youth the weight-bearing right leg is opposed by the active left arm extended in offering, the free bent leg is opposite the right arm hanging freely at his side. Many versions of the work are known in full size and at reduced scale; one of the latter in bronze may be seen in the Louvre, Paris.

Sophokles (496-406 BCE))

Modern plaster replica of Roman copy of a Greek original of the late 4th century B.C., probably from the circle of the sculptor Leochares. It is likely that this portrait derived from a bronze original set up in the theater of Dionysos in Athens by Lycurgos, the leader of Athens, in the 340s BC. The Roman copy that our cast copies is in the Vatican in Rome.

Sophokles was one of the foremost writers of Greek tragedies in the 5th century B.C., author of Oedipus the King, the Antigone, and more than 120 other plays -- only 7 have survived (in addition to the ones just mentioned: Ajax, Electra, Trachiniae, Philocletes, and Oedipus Coloneus). Here he is shown with a circlet in his hair, an honor granted him after his death allowing his worship as the Heros Dexion who introduced the cult of the healing god Asklepios into Athens. At the feet of the poet is a round container holding eight scrolls, a reference to his seven extant tragedies and one satyr play.


Modem plaster replica of Roman marble copy of the Greek bronze original by the sculptor Polyeuktos, dating ca. 280 B.C. Perhaps the most well-known of the Greek orators, Demosthenes is said to have overcome his stuttering speech by speaking with pebbles in his mouth against the roar of the sea. A writer of speeches for the courts, Demosthenes was a passionate defender of his native Athens and in a series of speeches known as the "Philippics" urged his fellow-citizens to withstand the advances of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. One of over 50 known Roman copies of the work is in the Vatican Museums in Rome.

Publius Vergilius Maro ("Vergil") (15 Oct. 70 - 19 BCE)

Modern plaster replica of a Roman marble original of the 1st century A.D. Vergil may be considered the poet laureate of the age of Augustus, best know for Rome's national epic, the Aeneid, as well as the Eclogues and the Georgics. The twelve books of his Aeneid trace the travels and trials of the legendary hero Aeneas from Troy to Italy where he establishes a new kingdom which will serve as the foundation on which the Roman state will develop.

The original of this head is in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. But there are several portrait types of Vergil; ours is probably the most boyish, although it seems related to another portrait in the Capitoline Museum (#1 below). Two other portraits (#2, #3) are similar to each other and both are in the Ny Carlsberg Museum in Copenhagen; the mosaic from Sousse, Tunisia (#4), seems to resemble the Danish portraits.

, #1 Capitoline , #2, Ny Carlsberg
, #3, Ny Carlsberg , #4, Sousse mosaic

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