The Te Papa Endymion. A study on the subject of two sketches on a sheet attributed to Maarten van Heemskerck

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A drawing attributed to the Dutch painter, draughtsman and print designer Maarten van Heemskerck (1498–1574) was acquired in 1973 by Melvin Day, director of the then National Art Gallery of New Zealand. The sheet presents several studies after Antique sculpture, supposedly dating from 1532–6/7, when the artist was in Rome. This article focuses on a sculpture represented at the top of the recto of the sheet, a reclining male nude which is illustrated twice, seen from slightly different angles. In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the object was located in the courtyard of Casa Maffei in Rome. The sculpture – often referred to as Endymion – later travelled to Venice, Verona and Munich, where it resides today. Executed in Rome, probably in the first century CE, at the end of the sixteenth century it was recognised as a replica of a piece forming part of a fourth-century BCE group representing Niobe and her sons. Three other copies of the same subject are known, currently located in Florence, Dresden and Turin. The article discusses similarities and differences between the replicas, as well as their individual stories, with the aim of understanding how the model was read and interpreted when it was depicted on the Te Papa sheet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-28
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2019


  • Art collecting
  • Drawing
  • Italian Renaissance
  • Maarten van Heemskerck (1498 –1574)
  • Rome
  • Antique statuary
  • Niobids
  • Endymion


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