The unveiling of the original marble group of Apollo and Daphne in 1625 caused a sensation, and created a European celebrity of its creator, Gianlorenzo Bernini. The scene is derived from Ovid's Metamorphosis in which Apollo, struck by one of Cupid's arrows, pursues Daphne, the daughter of a river god. Fleeing from the young god, she tires and prays to her father to save her. Bernini chose to depict the most dramatic moment, when Daphne is transformed by her father into a laurel tree, the bark snaking up to encase her legs and the leaves sprouting from her hair and fingertips. Masterpieces through Antiquity through the eighteenth-century were often replicated by sculptors in the nineteenth-century. This was particularly true with the present artist.
Born in Modena in 1866, Ernesto Gazzeri later moved to Rome where inspired by his classical surroundings he became a marble sculptor of repute. Known for sculptural portraits and funerary monuments, in particular his late masterpiece, a monument to Tommaso Campanella modelled in 1923 in Stilo, Italy, he also executed genre works and mythological subjects as in the present example.