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Dying Gaul

Thanks to the art historian Winckelmann, the Dying Gaul was formerly called a gladiator; but with his moustache and neck torque he is clearly what the Roman historian Diodorus called a “shaggy haired gaul”. The sculpture is a Roman copy of one of the Hellenistic bronze figures erected at Pergamon by King Attalos 1st (241-197 BCE) commemorating his victories. Despite celebrating triumph, the dignified pathos of the defeated “barbarians” is preserved.

The sculpture was a favourite amongst the dilettanti of the neo-classical era, and it often features prominently in paintings of wealthy collectors in front of their repositories of art. Its fame was boosted by the restoration of the right arm, by Michelangelo. In the ebb and flow of the Napoleonic wars the location of the original shifted between Rome and Paris, amid much celebration each time it was moved

Location of Original: 

Rome, Capitoline Museum, Stanza del Gladiatore 1

0.73 x 0.93m

Purchased in 1884 from Brucciani of London


Lippold: Griechische Plastik, 342 (n.5), pl. 122.3
Stuart-Jones: Catalogue of the Capitoline Museum (1912), 338, no.1
Brunn-Bruckmann: Denkmäler Griechischer und Römischer Skulptur, pl. 421
Walston: Catalogue of Casts in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (1889), 101, no.546
Reporter: 19 June 1885, 894, no.494
Pollitt: Art in the Hellenistic Age, 85, pl. 85

Roman. Original: c.200 BCE

From the Villa Ludovisi, Rome

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