The sculpture is one of many copies of ancient works commissioned by Stanisław August, and made by Pietro Staggi in Rome. It is a copy of a fragment of a famous group from antiquity depicting a wounded warrior supported by his comrade and is exhibited in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. The subject of the sculpture, long contestable among scholars, is defined in literature as: Ajax supporting the Body of Menelaos; Menelaos Supporting the Body of Patroclos; Alexander the Great Supported by a Soldier, Gladiator; the group is also known as the Pasquino Group or Pietas Militaris.
A much damaged copy or replica of the statue, with remnants of a signature, in housed in the Royal Łazienki in Warsaw.
The bust of the warrior is from the King Stanisław August collection. In 1793 it was sent from Rome to Gdańsk together with other works of art. For reasons that are unclear it remained in Gdańsk until the summer of 1795, when it was taken to Warsaw and stored at the Royal Łazienki. In 1820 it was in Natolin Palace and later in the collection of Count Maurycy Potocki at Jabłonna; in the interwar period it was exhibited in the King’s Dressing Room at the Royal Castle in Warsaw; from 1951 at the National Museum in Warsaw—on display in the Old Orangery at the Royal Łazienki. In 1984 transferred to the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Pietro Ceccardo Staggi (Carrara 1754–before 1814 Carrara?).
Italian sculptor; brother of the sculptors Giovachino and Francesco. He attended the School of Geometry at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Carrara and for some time was connected with the city’s artistic milieu. In the years 1787–9 he lived in Warsaw, and later possibly in St Petersburg. He made sculptures and imported marble for Stanisław August. The Primate, Michał Poniatowski, and Helena Radziwiłłowa née Przezdziecka also had works by Staggi in their collections.