The Apollo Belvedere is thought by some scholars to be a Roman copy (2nd century CE) of a bronze original by the Greek sculptor Leochares (4th century BCE).
Apollo, god of music and poetry, is depicted as an archer. Although his bow is missing, a fletch of arrows is still clearly visible on his back.
The Apollo Belvedere was described by the German art historian, Johann Joachim Wincklemann (1717-68), as "the highest ideal of art among the works of antiquity that have escaped its destruction". The sculpture sent Wincklemann into rhapsodies of pleasure:
"In gazing upon this masterpiece of art, I forget all else, and I myself adopt an elevated stance, in order to be worthy of gazing upon it. My chest seems to expand with veneration and to heave like those I have seen swollen as if by the spirit of prophecy, and I feel myself transported to Delos and to the Lycian groves, places Apollo honoured with his presence—for my figure seems to take on life and movement, like Pygmalion’s beauty."
The lower part of the right arm and the left hand, which were missing when the statue was unearthed, were restored by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli (1507–1563).