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Man Entwined by Two Snakes

Man Entwined by Two Snakes

c. 1527

attributed to Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone

(Italian, 1483/84-1539)

Pen and brown ink and brush and brown wash with blue gouache, heightened with white gouache; framing lines in brown ink

Support: Beige(2) laid paper prepared with blue watercolor and gouache

Sheet: 19.2 x 11.7 cm (7 9/16 x 4 5/8 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1944.475


Although not exact copies, the compositions of both this bronze plaque and drawing derive from the Laocoön group, an ancient marble sculpture unearthed in 1506 in Rome. The nearly life-size statue of the Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons battling giant sea snakes quickly became a source of inspiration for artists. They especially appreciated the emotional anguish and physical strain portrayed by the struggling male nudes. In The Flagellation, the sculptor Moderno adopted Laocoön’s pose and muscularity for the suffering figure of Christ, thereby presenting him as an athletic and virtuous hero. Pordenone’s drawing of a man entwined by two serpents seems to be his own expressive version of Laocoön.

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