APOXYOMENOS (2nd – 1stC BCE) –masterpiece of the Croatian and world cultural heritage

The 192 cm tall antique bronze statue found in the sea between the (uninhabited) island of Vele Orjule and the Lošinj island on the 27th of April 1999 is so far the only big bronze statue found on the east coast of the Adriatic. It is presumed that it ended up there at the beginning of the 1st Century, where it had possibly been thrown during a strong storm either because of the danger of capsizing. Or it may have been a sacrifice to gods for a safe journey through the Osor channel to a richer destination somewhere on the northern Adriatic.

The statue depicts a young athlete cleaning his scraper “strigil” after using it to clean himself of oil, dust and sweat after a competition. During the seven-year restoration works, the material and style of the statue were estimated to date back to the 2nd-1stC BCE, and the prototype on which the statue was based is even older, dating back to the middle of the 4thC BCE.

The Lošinj statue is the most complete and best preserved out of nine known copies of the Apoxyomenos prototype (the most famous bronze statue is found at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, discovered in 1896 in Ephesus). The statue’s sculptor remains unknown, but the classic beauty and the quality of work suggests a supreme master.

The original statue is kept in the Museum of Apoxyomenos, its new home, in the center of the town of Mali Lošinj (the former Kvarner palace).


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