The original life-size antique marble stands in the courtyard of the Belvedere in the Vatican Museum, Rome and was first recorded in 1543. The model, sometimes attributed to Praxiteles or one of his followers, probably represents Hermes rather than Antinous. Although the Vatican version was the earliest discovered and best-known, the oldest is that discovered on the tomb of a young man on the island of Andros, now in Athens. Another version, known as the Hermes Farnese is in the British Museum. The discovery of the model on the tomb suggests an identifaction of Hermes in his role of Psychopompous, guiding souls to the underworld.
The Belvedere version was widely admired, Winkelmann praised it, writing that 'our Nature will not easily create a body as perfect as that of the Antinous admirandus.' Copies of it were hugely popular in the era of the Grand Tour. They were produced as reductions, such as the present model, and at lifesize and appeared in the most prestigious collections in Europe. Lifesize copies in both marble and bronze were made for the Palace of Versailles in the 1680's by Pierre I Le Gros. The Belvedere Antinous was ceded to the French as part of the Treaty of Tolentino in 1797, and it arrived in Paris with a triumphal procession a year later. Antinous was exhibited at the Musée Central des Arts before it was returned to Rome in 1816.
Taste and the Antique, no.4; Bieber, pp.16-17: Gerlach, pp.151-178