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sculpture, plaster

On display
Object / Artefact › Applied Arts and Design
  • Other titles
    • Laocoon
  • Description
    statue, plaster, Laocoon, male figures reproduced from the antique, original marble sculpture dates from the 2nd century BC, brought to Rome in AD 79, it disappeared then was rediscovered in 1506. In 1878, the Auckland Museum in Princes Street received a gift of 33 casts of antique statuary from a wealthy expatriate Aucklander, Thomas Russell. John Logan Campbell saw the opportunity to establish the first free school of art in Auckland to be located in the Museum. The statues were used as models for figure drawing. Other classical statues were subsequently donated.
    Laocoon, Greek myth, a priest of Apollo at Troy who warned the Trojans against the wooden horse left by the Greeks, killed with his twin sons by two sea serpents.

    Roman - Augustan ca. 42-21 B.C.
    Male nudes: Laocoon and his two sons
    Attributed by Pliny to 3 Rhodian sculptors:
    Agesandrus, Athenodorus, Polydorus*
    Height 2.22 m.
    Marble original: Vatican Museum Rome. Found on
    the Esquiline Hill in 1506
    Replica: Applied Arts Collection**
    Logan Campbell Gallery
    The Laocoon is a masterpiece of violent movement
    and despair. The sculpture has a grouping
    of three male nudes entangled in the coils of two
    serpents and portrays the agony of the death of
    Laocoon and his two sons.
    The Julio-Claudian Imperial House had mythological
    links with Troy, claiming descent from Aeneas,
    Laocoon's nephew. According to Homer, Laocoon
    was the Trojan Priest who warned against the
    wooden horse. Shortly afterwards, Laocoon and
    his sons were killed by two sea serpents sent by
    Athena.*** The sculpture depicts the attack as it
    takes place on a draped altar set on three steps
    and vividly portrays the 'psychological moment'
    as Laocoon and his sons fight in vain against the
    inexplicable forces sent to destroy them.
    The Laocoon is a typical sculpture of the Late
    Republic and highlights the Hellenistic ideal of
    'creating intense sculpture through the expression
    of emotion and mood'. The Laocoon's composition
    is spread out in one plane similar to the design of
    a carved relief. The figures are set on two diagonals
    from right to left and are portrayed in
    twisting frontal poses with their right arms raised.
    The masterly arrangement of the drapery is an
    interesting design feature of the sculpture.
    Bibliography and notes:
    *Aristotle Politics 1.5.10,1260b1-3: Artists were
    jealous of their independence.
    **The plaster replica of the original marble
    sculpture, was made in the cast workshop of
    Brucciani's Galleria delle Belle Arti in Russell, St.
    Covent Garden, London, and was purchased for
    the Museum in 1878.
    *** Virgil. Aeneid, ii,109 ff. The story of Laocoon
    was a Homeric theme but belonged to the lost
    legends of the Trojan circle. Virgil wove the
    essence of the tragedy of Laocoon into his epic
    poem, the Aeneid.

    Education Kit
    ‘Ancient Greek And Roman Collections (Years 11 to 13)’
    Auckland Museum Te Papa Whakahiku
    © Auckland Museum 2002

    Death of Laocoon and his sons
    Augustan, Late Hellenistic phase ca. 42-21 B.C.
    Plaster copy of the marble original
    Group of male nudes: Death of Laocoon and his sons
    Attributed by Pliny to Rhodian sculptors:
    Agesandrus, Polydorus and Athenodorus
    Height 2.22 m.
    Vatican Collection, Belvedere. 74
    Found on the Esquiline Hill in 1506
    Applied Arts Collection
  • Place
  • Other Number
    13718, 1997X1.9
  • Accession date
    5 August 1878
  • Collection area
  • Item count
  • Display location
    Mackelvie and Asian Ceramics East & West
  • Record richness
scuplture, plaster
scuplture, plaster


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