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28.8.15

Quirinale Boxer *NOT* Coming to Washington

We are looking forward to an exhibition, Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World, currently at the Getty in Los Angeles, which will come to the National Gallery of Art in December. Ingrid D. Rowland has a beautiful consideration of this show and others (The Grandest Art of the Ancients, August 13) for The New York Review of Books:
The other statue, from the third century BC, a life-sized seated boxer, could not have been more poignantly human. Lanciani photographed him sitting on the ground, watching over the excavation, looking more like a companion or mascot for the workers than a masterpiece of ancient sculpture.

The boxer came to rest this summer at the center of an exhibition in Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, where he has been set so close to the ground that we can look directly into his face, and see what Lanciani’s workmen saw in 1885: the scars of survival. This man, too, has a heroic, muscular body, but his hands are swollen beneath the protective leather straps and leather padding that Greek boxers used for official matches (they practiced with gloves), and his face has been brutally battered.

The broken nose and cauliflower ears suggest a long series of previous fights, but the sculptor also makes it clear that the latest bout has finished only a moment ago by using a chisel to jab new cuts into the skin of the boxer’s face, uppermost ear, and arms. A purple patch of bronze appliqué creates the rising bruise on his cheekbone. Copper alloy suggests the red of fresh blood, oozing from a cut on his ear and splashed on his thigh as he turns his injured head to look upward, meeting our eyes head on.
There is nothing quite being able to look at a statue like this up close, as anyone who went to see The Dying Gaul at the National Gallery of Art a couple of years ago recalls. Famous works in the show (.PDF file) are the Aulus Metellus orator statue, known as the Arringatore in Italy, the Minerva of Arezzo, and the Piombino Apollo.

SVILUPPO:
Sadly, the NGA Press Office has informed me that the Quirinale Boxer is not among the bronze works coming to Washington this year.

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