1 hour ago
It is not a gladiator and it is not owned by the Borghese family. That is true for most things in the world, but since this sculpture is called ‘the Borghese Gladiator’, I thought it worth pointing this out. This sculpture was found around 1611 and soon became part of the Borghese collection in their Roman villa. Almost two centuries later, Camillo Borghese sold it to his brother in law, Napoleon Bonaparte. That is why it is in the Louvre these days. The sculpture is a Roman copy of a Greek original. That original was probably made in the third century BCE. It is exceptional because it is so three-dimensional. This man is fighting something very large. He holds a shield up to a threat from above and is about to thrust his sword upward. To do so, he will have to twist and turn. That forces us to walk around him to see his sword arm. The fact that he is fighting upward tells us he is not a gladiator. He might well be fighting someone on horseback or a big monster, but not another gladiator of comparable size. After it had been found, it quickly became famous. A bronze cast was made for Charles I of England. That in turn was copied widely by British aristocrats and many of these copies can still be found in their houses. Other copies, large and small, that were used by artists throughout Europe. I could actually do a whole series of posts, just on the paintings that contain this statue. Come to think of it, maybe I will.
The Borghese Gladiator, Agasias of Ephesus, 1st century copy of a third century BCE original, the Louvre, Paris. .
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