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Appiani’s sketch is a study after the famous Hellenistic sculpture showing Laocoön and his two sons attacked by serpents. Appiani could have had seen the sculpture in the antiquities collection in the Vatican during a visit he made to Rome in 1790. It appears that Appiani never completed a painting on this subject, and this study therefore may have been an independent exercise that concentrated on depicting the tortured expression of the Trojan priest at the center of the ancient sculpture group. This type of expression study after either nature or antique models was promoted in traditional academies of art, including the Milanese academy where Appiani studied.
Provenance research is on-going at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Please contact Annette Schlagenhauff, Curator of Special Projects, at email@example.com, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.