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In Greek mythology, Ganymede was a prince whom the god Zeus, in the form of an eagle, carried off to Mount Olympus to serve as cupbearer to the gods. Enthusiasm for the art of Greece and Rome revived when the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were excavated in the mid 18th to early 19th centuries. Archaeological finds at these sites inspired artists to emulate classical sculpture, which they regarded as the highest representation of ideal nature and beauty. Bertel Thorvaldsen studied and worked in Rome and collected antiquities. His sculptures combine mythological subjects, idealized human forms, realistic details, and smooth marble surfaces to evoke the serenity of the ancient Greek models he admired.

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