Digital casts

Imagine if you could admire Apollon and Venus from all angles whenever and whereever you wanted? You actually can. Under the common heading SMK², the SMK releases 3D images of six selected plaster casts from The Royal Cast Collection.

Now all interested parties – such as schools, students, artists and designers – can download heroes, godesses, warriors and athletes that are considered highlights of Western art history.

As part of a comprehensive digitization process the SMK has relinquished its copyright to more than 25,000 works and now takes the next step by progressing from 2D photographs to 3D images.

Among others,the six casts count Apollo, god of music and protector against evil; The Discobolus, a discus thrower in movement, poised in perfect balance; the naked Venus, goddess of love; and the Doryphorus, the spear-bearer – a muscular soldier ready for battle.

The 3D images can be used for everything from sharing, remixing and creative reuse to animation and 3D printing.

Read more about the project

Practical information

The standard application Preview on Apple computers allows you to turn the figures to view them from different angles. Software such as Blender, which is available as a free download, enables you to reshape and animate the figures.

Public Domain dedication
The 3D models are released with the CC0 Public Domain dedication, which means that you can use them exactly as you please – including for commercial purposes – without asking permission from the museum or anyone else.

However, it is considered polite to include picture credits.

Photo: Magnus Kaslov / SMK Foto

Photo: Magnus Kaslov / SMK Foto


SMK Open

The 'Digital casts' project is part of SMK² – but it also relates significantly to the project SMK Open , that aims to digitize and release Denmarks entire art collection.

SMK Open builds on a vision of making art accessible and relevant to far more people. This is done by making the SMK collection available as an online resource and tool that people can bring into their own lives and use on their own terms.

Get the 3D-models

Below you can see and read about the six selected masterpieces from the SMK's collection.

In addition, the museum also releases a 3D image of a seventh plaster cast: the bust Memnon of Ethiopia. This bust was selected, 3D-scanned and released in collaboration with the Living Archives Research Project at Institutionen för Konst, Kultur och Kommunikation, Malmö University.

By adding this cast, Living Archives calls attention to the Eurocentric art canon that has also shaped the Royal Cast Collection. The white bust portraying a man of African descent highlights how the plaster casts reflect a Western view of the world.

Files for download

Download all seven 3D-images (ZIP-file 92,4 MB)
Download all seven 3D-images in high resolution (ZIP-fil 500 MB)
Download information about the seven sculptures (Excel-file 721 KB)

The Discobolus (The Discus Thrower), 460-450 BCE

The sculpture depicting a discus thrower is described in surviving accounts from Antiquity, but it took a long time before archaeologists were able to reconstruct the original on the basis of fragments from a range of copies from Antiquity. For example, the head was placed in several different ways before settling on a final version; this is evident in the two versions housed at the Royal Cast Collection. The strange horns in the figure’s forehead are the remnants of a device used to support a victory wreath. The Discobolus has been the object of great admiration

for its ability to depict a body in movement, yet also remain perfectly balanced and in keeping with a stringent formal language. Copies of the figure enabled Adolf Hitler’s filmmaker Leni Riefensthal to have naked athletes assume the figure’s position in her film about the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, and Hitler acquired the best preserved antique version from Mussolini in 1938.

Download The Discobolus (9,61 mb)

Venus de Milo (Afrodite of Milos), 2nd century BC
Venus (Aphrodite) is the goddess of love. She was depicted in the nude or in various stages of nudity (and painted). The figure is executed in the Hellenistic
style and famed for its sensuous appearance. It supposedly lost its arms in a struggle arising between two groups of soldiers who sought to claim it as loot when it was first discovered on the island of Milos. The statue’s fame is partly the result of propaganda. It was discovered in 1820 and acquired by the French state shortly after Napoleon’s fall in 1815, at which point the French had to return another Venus figure, the Venus Medici (KAS1241) to Italy after Napoleon had seized it as spoils of war. To compensate for their loss the French promoted the Venus de Milo as the loveliest of all antique statues of woman. An Englishman even commissioned a plaster cast as early as 1822, despite the fact that the French and the English were arch-enemies at the time, and today the statue remains far more famous than the Venus Medici.

Download Venus de Milos (13 mb)

Zeus or Poseidon from the Artemision, 460-450 BC

When the bronze original was discovered in the sea it held nothing in its raised right hand. Thus, we cannot know whether it shows the sea god Poseidon, who would be holding a trident, or Zeus, ruler of the gods, brandishing his thunderbolt. The figure is a prime example of the stringent classical style that marks the transition from Archaic stiffness with its familiar stereotypical smile towards a greater range of expression, as is evident here where we see the body captured at the moment before the deity’s anger and strength is released in his throw. This figure, alongside several other works from the Royal Cast Collections, were given as a gift to the
CAFA art academy in Beijing in 2008 to replace the figures that had been smashed during the cultural revolution of the 1960s. The casts have been used in drawing classes at the academy, a tradition that continues in China and Japan long after it has disappeared in Europe.

Download Zeus or Poseidon from the Artemision (9,98mb)

The Doryphoros (The Spear Bearer), approximately 450 BC

The Doryphoros (Spear-Bearer) represents the strict, classical ideal of maleness. Here we find a serene, harmonious, muscular solider ready for battle. The line above the shoulder and the line above the hip point in different directions: this is a “contrapposto” position; the sculpture is in movement. The original was created by Polyclitus, who wrote a treatise on the correct proportions of a canonical work, and his sculptures were copied in great numbers. The Greek satirist Lucian (120-180 CE) did not approve of the uniformity that such dictates of taste entailed. He stated that the Doryphoros looks like a man fleeing after having been unfaithful, and that he walks as if he had a radish up his bum. Even in the prudish 19th century it was perfectly acceptable to enjoy the many naked male and female bodies at the museums. Modern gender studies have pointed out that gender identity is formed through repetition of established patterns and systems, and indeed artefacts such as this spear bearer, and a cast collection as such, seem perfect for such a purpose.

The Doryphoros (The Spear Bearer) (13,1 mb)


Kore ACR 671 in chiton and cape (epiblema), approximately 530 BC

”Epiblema” is the term used for the long shawl draped loosely around the upper body of this figure. The term is also used in botany to describe the broken ‘skin’ that serves to absorb water to the roots of sprouting plants. The figure’s costume helps us date the figure as Late Archaic, approximately 520 BC: the dress is depicted in an extravagant and detailed manner, but the figure remains tightly composed around a central axis and wears the faint, flat “archaic smile” as her only facial expression. In the Early Archaic style the clothes would be portrayed more simply, and in later styles the smile disappears while the figures begin to twist more around their own axis.

A ”kore” (plural korai) is an Archaic sculpture depicting a female figure. Korai are always fully dressed, not partially or fully nude like the later Venus figures. The original figure would have been painted in bold colours with elaborate patterns on her dress.
Kore no. 761 was found in 1886 on Acropolis in Athens, just west of the Erechtheion, alongside a range of other figures. They had been hidden in a crevice in the rocks, possibly to salvage them from the Persian attack and torching of the place in 480 BCE. Archaeologists are still unearthing more parts of the figures, enabling them to continue to make the various sculptures more complete. This kore had a piece added to one arm in 2012.

Download Kore ACR 671 in chiton and cape (epiblema) (13,7mb)

Apollo Belvedere, approximately 360-320 BC

Apollo is a god of many things, including music, and a protector against evil. He is often depicted in a decidedly femininemanner, with soft curves, rounded shapes, and long hair artfully arranged. Even here, where he has just shot his deadly arrows at Python, a female monster, and usurped her temple in Delphi. Winckelmann was very taken with the figure. He believed that it was so much more perfect than all other original Greek works that it could not possibly be a Roman copy. It had to be a Greek marble original that had been moved directly to Rome. However, the draperies around Apollo’s arm do not follow the same curves on one side as on the other. The error presumably arose when a Roman workshop copied the statue in marble. The Apollo Belvedere was named after its position in the Vatican, the Cortile del Belvedere. It was admired and frequently copied for almost 400 years
before falling out of fashion.

Download Apollo Belvedere (13,8mb)

Memnon of Ethiopia, approximately 170 BC


King Memnon of Ethiopia is briefly mentioned in the Iliad, Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan War. He comes to the defence of Troy with a vast army, renowned for their skill as archers. Memnon himself is a warrior of such prowess and fearlessness that he is compared to the Greeks’ greatest hero, Achilles. Achilles and Memnon meet in battle, and Memnon is slain. Recognising his strength and courage, the Greek gods make him immortal and take him to Mount Olympus.
This bust was made in the Hellenistic style for the villa where the Greek philosopher Herodes Atticus lived while educating the Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. Around this time, approximately 170 BC, the Romans were keenly interested in the culture of Greece, a recent conquest. They were particularly enthralled by Homer’s tales, which had also fascinated the last great Greek ruler, Alexander the Great. Roman emperors wished to emulate Alexander, and Alexander had seen himself as a new Achilles.

During the reign of Alexander and, later, the Romans, there was a general shift in tastes, veering away from classical idealism towards greater realism. Hence, the bust of king Memnon appears as a portrait of a real person, not just a type. He is, however, also an ideal figure for the Romans, who believed they were descended from the Trojans. Their conquest of Greece had avenged the fall of Troy, and they were on the same side as Memnon. To the Greeks and Romans, the Ethiopians were stronger, taller and gifted with unusual longevity compared to other people.

Download Memnon of Ethiopia (24,1mb)

Thank you for the support

The Digital casts project is supported by Bikuben Fonden.

SMK Open

SMK Open

Read about the SMK Open project, that aims to make Denmarks entire art collection available to all.


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