Sleeping Ariadne
The Sleeping Ariadne of the Vatican Museums
Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums , in Viale Vaticano in Rome, inside the Vatican City, are among the greatest museums in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries, including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and...

, Rome, a Roman Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

ic copy of a Hellenistic sculpture of the Pergamene school of the 2nd century BCE, is one of the most renowned sculptures of Antiquity. The reclining figure in a chiton
Chitons are small to large, primitive marine molluscs in the class Polyplacophora.There are 900 to 1,000 extant species of chitons in the class, which was formerly known as Amphineura....

 bound under her breasts half lies, half sits, her extended legs crossed at the calves, her head pillowed on her left arm, her right thrown over her head. Other Roman copies of this model exist: one, the "Wilton House Ariadne
Wilton House
Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years....

", is substantiallly unrestored, while another, the "Medici Ariadne" found in Rome, has been "seriously reworked in modern times", according to Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway
Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway
Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, born in 1929 in Chieti , is an art historian and specialist in ancient Greek sculpture.-Life:The daughter of an Italian officer, she spent her childhood in Ethiopia, where her father is stationed. After World War II, she studied classics at the University of Messina,...

. Two surviving statuettes attest to a Roman trade in reductions of this familiar figure. A variant Sleeping Ariadne is in the Prado Museum, Madrid. A later Roman variant found in the Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese may refer to:*The Villa Borghese Pinciana , the villa built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio , developing sketches by Scipione Borghese, who used it as a villa suburbana, a party villa, at the edge of Rome, and to house his art collection.**The Galleria...

 gardens, Rome, is at the Louvre Museum.

Purchased from the Roman Angelo Maffei in 1512 by Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II , nicknamed "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope" , born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513...

, it was immediately installed in the Belvedere Courtyard, which links the Vatican Palace with the papal casina called the Belvedere
Belvedere (structure)
Belvedere is an architectural term adopted from Italian , which refers to any architectural structure sited to take advantage of such a view. A belvedere may be built in the upper part of a building so as to command a fine view...

; there its neighbors were the recently discovered Laocoön
Laocoön and his Sons
The statue of Laocoön and His Sons , also called the Laocoön Group, is a monumental sculpture in marble now in the Vatican Museums, Rome. The statue is attributed by the Roman author Pliny the Elder to three sculptors from the island of Rhodes: Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus...

and the Belvedere Apollo. Once she had been initially identified as Cleopatra because of the snake bracelet on the upper left arm, which was taken for the asp
Asp (reptile)
Asp is the modern Anglicisation of the word aspis, which in antiquity referred to any one of several venomous snake species found in the Nile region. It is believed that the aspis referred to in Egyptian mythology is the modern Egyptian cobra....

 by which she died, supportive narrative could easily be brought to bear: Ulisse Aldrovandi
Ulisse Aldrovandi
Ulisse Aldrovandi was an Italian naturalist, the moving force behind Bologna's botanical garden, one of the first in Europe. Carolus Linnaeus and the comte de Buffon reckoned him the father of natural history studies...

 thought he detected that "she appears to have collapsed and fainted", and a sense of fitful uneasiness has been ascribed to her by the modern viewer Sheila McNally (below).

The "Cleopatra" became the main model through which a conventional pose signifying sleep, with one elbow cocked above the head, was transmitted from Antiquity to High Renaissance
High Renaissance
The expression High Renaissance, in art history, is a periodizing convention used to denote the apogee of the visual arts in the Italian Renaissance...

 and later painters and sculptors.

T.B.L. Webster invoked for the uneasy pose of the sleeper, between sleep and wakening, a Hellenistic innovation in the sleeping Ariadne
Ariadne , in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Minos of Crete, and his queen Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios, the Sun-titan. She aided Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur and was the bride of the god Dionysus.-Minos and Theseus:...

 motif long known from vase-painting
Pottery of Ancient Greece
As the result of its relative durability, pottery is a large part of the archaeological record of Ancient Greece, and because there is so much of it it has exerted a disproportionately large influence on our understanding of Greek society...

, which now placed greater emphasis on the stress of Ariadne herself; perhaps, Webster suggests, it was reflecting a new, literary source that has not survived. Sheila McNally detected in the sculpture a new "sense of unease that informs the whole" and "an effort to throw off some inner discomfort — a sluggish effort, restrained by a slumber that is more oppressive than relaxing. Her drapery bunches about her legs, imprisoning her loins." Soon she may wake to threaten vengeance on Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

, as in Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.-Biography:...

' description in Peleus and Thetis.

Since the Renaissance

The Cleopatra, as it was then known, was set upon a Roman sarcophagus
A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

 and fitted as a fountain in a niche at one end of the uppermost terrace of the Cortile del Belvidere, embodying in its setting the description of a Sleeping Nymph allegedly found by the far-off Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, with a suitably Antique-sounding four-line Latin epigram
An epigram is a brief, interesting, usually memorable and sometimes surprising statement. Derived from the epigramma "inscription" from ἐπιγράφειν epigraphein "to write on inscribe", this literary device has been employed for over two millennia....

 beginning HUIUS NYMPHA LOCI... that was then making the humanist rounds. The epigram, which passed until modern times for a Roman one, was composed by Giovanni Antonio Campani
Giovanni Antonio Campani
Giovanni Antonio Campani called Campanus , a protegé of Cardinal Bessarion, was a Neapolitan-born humanist at the court of Pope Pius II, whose funeral oration he wrote, followed by a biography, flattering but filled with personal reminiscence, written ca 1470-77. Campanus was famous for his Latin...

, a humanist at the court of Pius II who moved in the academic circle of Julius Pomponius Laetus
Julius Pomponius Laetus
Julius Pomponius Laetus , also known as Giulio Pomponio Leto, was an Italian humanist.-Background:Laetus was born at Teggiano, near Salerno, the illegitimate scion of the princely house of Sanseverino, the German historian Ludwig von Pastor reported...

. But the Sleeping Nymph motif and the accompanying inscription applied to it became part and parcel of humanistic and fashionable recreations of paradisal garden spots with classical affinities— loci amoeni
Locus Amoenus
Latin for "pleasant place", locus amoenus is a literary term which generally refers to an idealized place of safety or comfort. A locus amoenus is usually a beautiful, shady lawn or open woodland, sometimes with connotations of Eden...

— right through the 18th century, all the while assimilated to the "Cleopatra", Leonard Barkan observes, "by a contagion among quite separate narratives that happen to converge in the enigmatic space of the signum/statue". The niche, if it was not a grotto from the first, was redecorated as a grotto
A grotto is any type of natural or artificial cave that is associated with modern, historic or prehistoric use by humans. When it is not an artificial garden feature, a grotto is often a small cave near water and often flooded or liable to flood at high tide...

 in the 1530s, when Francisco de Holanda
Francisco de Holanda
Francisco de Holanda , was a Portuguese humanist and painter. Considered to be one of the most important figures of the Portuguese Renaissance, he was also an essayist, architect, and historian...

 made a drawing of it.

In the 1550s, under the general direction of Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

 the sculpture was reinstalled indoors in an adjoining long gallery, for which, still as a fountain in a shallow grotto niche, it served as the visual focus at one end; Danielle da Volterra provided the designs for the setting in what became known as the Stanza Cleopatra. When the Museo Pio-Clementino was established, it received its similar new setting, set on a sarcophagus that bears a frieze of the Titanomachy
In Greek mythology, the Titanomachy or War of the Titans , was the ten-year series of battles fought in Thessaly between the two camps of deities long before the existence of mankind: the Titans, based on Mount Othrys, and the Olympians, who would come to reign on Mount Olympus...


Poems were dedicated to the sculpture during the 16th century, sometimes expressed as if in the statue's own voice, in the rhetorical device called prosopopoeia
A prosopopoeia is a rhetorical device in which a speaker or writer communicates to the audience by speaking as another person or object. The term literally derives from the Greek roots "prósopon face, person, and poiéin to make, to do"....

; Baldassare Castiglione
Baldassare Castiglione
Baldassare Castiglione, count of was an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent Renaissance author.-Biography:Castiglione was born into an illustrious Lombard family at Casatico, near Mantua, where his family had constructed an impressive palazzo...

 wrote one of these, in the form of a dramatic monologue, which Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

 englished in the early 18th century.

The sculpture was one of a dozen selected by Primaticcio to be molded for plaster copies and then cast in bronze for Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 at the château de Fontainebleau
Château de Fontainebleau
The Palace of Fontainebleau, located 55 kilometres from the centre of Paris, is one of the largest French royal châteaux. The palace as it is today is the work of many French monarchs, building on an early 16th century structure of Francis I. The building is arranged around a series of courtyards...

. In the process, the pose was slightly adjusted, and the sleeping nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

's limbs were gently lengthened, to accord better with French Mannerist canons of female beauty. From the bronze at Fontainebleau numerous copies and reductions were made. In Rome Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin was a French painter in the classical style. His work predominantly features clarity, logic, and order, and favors line over color. His work serves as an alternative to the dominant Baroque style of the 17th century...

 made a small wax copy of the papal sculpture to keep by him, which has come to be preserved in the Louvre Museum. Copies in marble were commissioned by Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

. Pierre Julien
Pierre Julien
Pierre Julien was a French sculptor who worked in a full range of rococo and neoclassical styles.He served an early apprenticeship at Le Puy-en-Velay, near his natal village of Saint-Paulien, then at the École de dessin of Lyon, then entered the Parisian atelier of Guillaume Coustou the Younger...

 sculpted a marble copy during his sojourn at the French Academy in Rome
French Academy in Rome
The French Academy in Rome is an Academy located in the Villa Medici, within the Villa Borghese, on the Pincio in Rome, Italy.-History:...

, 1768 to 1773, and shipped it to France to demonstrate the progress he was making, as was the expected gesture of the king's pensionnaires. In Henry Hoare's picturesque garden at Stourhead
Stourhead is a 2,650 acre estate at the source of the River Stour near Mere, Wiltshire, England. The estate includes a Palladian mansion, the village of Stourton, gardens, farmland, and woodland...

, a lakeside temple contained John Cheere
John Cheere
John Cheere was an English sculptor, born in London. Brother of the sculptor Sir Henry Cheere, he was originally apprenticed as a haberdasher from 1725 to 1732.-Life:...

's whited-lead copy (1766) of the Vatican Ariadne with the suitably Antique-sounding verses beginning HUIUS NYMPHA LOCI.... In America, not very much later, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 acquired a small marble copy of the "Cleopatra", as he first knew it, for the sculpture gallery he planned at Monticello
Monticello is a National Historic Landmark just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, United States. It was the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia; it is...

 but which was never realised. It was a gift from James Bowdoin
James Bowdoin
James Bowdoin II was an American political and intellectual leader from Boston, Massachusetts during the American Revolution. He served in both branches of the Massachusetts General Court in the colonial era and was president of the state's constitutional convention...

, in 1805, and remains in Jefferson's hallway.

Napoleon's agents in Rome naturally selected the "Cleopatra" to join the choicest antiquities to be taken to Paris, forming the short-lived Musée Napoléon; with Napoleon's fall, it was returned to Rome with the other treasures.

Reidentification as Ariadne

Previously, Johann Joachim Winckelmann
Johann Joachim Winckelmann
Johann Joachim Winckelmann was a German art historian and archaeologist. He was a pioneering Hellenist who first articulated the difference between Greek, Greco-Roman and Roman art...

 noticed that the snake actually represented a serpentine-form bracelet, and that the sleeping figure had no reason to be called a Cleopatra; she was a sleeping nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

, he suggested, or a Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

. Ennio Quirino Visconti
Ennio Quirino Visconti
Ennio Quirino Visconti was an Italian antiquarian and art historian, papal Prefect of Antiquities, and the leading expert of his day in the field of ancient Roman sculpture....

 made the secure identification as Ariadne
Ariadne , in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Minos of Crete, and his queen Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios, the Sun-titan. She aided Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur and was the bride of the god Dionysus.-Minos and Theseus:...

, based on similar motifs in carved gems and sarcophagus
A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

 reliefs. By 1816, Jefferson was declaring that his "Cleopatra" was Ariadne.

Medici Sleeping Ariadne

Another version of the sculpture that was so long identified as Cleopatra was in the collections at the Villa Medici
Villa Medici
The Villa Medici is a mannerist villa and an architectural complex with a garden contiguous with the larger Borghese gardens, on the Pincian Hill next to Trinità dei Monti in Rome, Italy. The Villa Medici, founded by Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and now property of the French...

, Rome. It was not removed to Florence until 1787, and some connoisseurs disputed whether it was not in fact finer than the pope's. Today it is at the Villa Corsini near Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, a section of the local National Archaeological Museum
National Archaeological Museum (Florence)
The National Archaeological Museum of Florence is an archaeological museum in Florence, Italy...

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