This statue was part of the collection which Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere held in his palace in Rome. When he was elected Pope as Julius II (1503-1513) the statues was transferred to the Vatican, where it has remained since at least 1508. The god, Apollo, moves forward majestically and seems to have just released an arrow from the bow which he originally carried in his left hand. The work has been dated to mid-way through the 2nd century A.D. and is considered to be a copy of an original bronze statue of 330-320 B.C. by Leochares, one of the artists who worked on the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
The statue has always been greatly admired, but owes its fame particularly to Johann Joachim Winckelmann who considered it the sublime expression of Greek art, "of all the works of antiquity that have escaped destruction, the statue of Apollo represents the highest ideal of art".