Almost always, when we look at Greek sculptures, they are copies of Roman originals. These copies have are made of marble unlike the originals that had been sculpted out of bronze. Very rare is it that original Greek sculptures are found. One such original was the ‘Boxer of Quirinal’, sometimes simply termed as ‘The Boxer’. This sculpture dates back to the Greek Hellenistic period (300’s B.C). Hellenistic refers to the period just after the rule of Alexander the Great and typically it is considered as the last phase of ancient Greek art. The sculpture was discovered on the Quirinal Hill of Rome in 1885 near the Baths of Constantine. It was assumed for a long time that the sculpture was buried in antiquity with the Hellenistic prince in order to protect him.
The sculpture is a captivating masterpiece and is different from the ideal; athletic young figured sculptures of that time. This, however, does not in any way mean that it does not represent the skill and beauty in work that other sculptures also possessed. Due to lack of history the artist of this great piece remains unknown but the details in the statue showcase true talent from that era.
A closer look at the sculpture
The overall sculpture:
The statue is of a boxer who is seated with his arms placed on his knees. His head is turned towards the right with a slight raise portraying an open mouth. He is completely naked wearing only boxing gloves and some sort of athletic suspender tying up the foreskin of his penis, which was not only protective, but also added an element of decorum. His gloves are of an ancient Greek type with strips of leather attached to the rings around his knuckles along with woolen paddings. The sculpture in itself is somewhat over life sized, however, it is so proximate that it is hard to believe that it is not a real man. It is considered to be an exceptionally realistic sculpture. He is seen as a man of total experience; exhausted yet powerful, brutalized yet handsome and dazed yet alert. The sculpture shows a man who is near exhaustion after a fight, bleeding from all over his body yet somehow he still has the energy to turn his head.
The artist has used bronze, which is highly expensive and was not used by several Greek artists. Also, to highlight areas of injury, the artist has inlaid in the most finest way copper/alloy into the sculpture.
The sculpture is not considered to be beautiful in the traditional sense. His face is certainly not considered to be attractive. The artist has been careful to ensure that we are engaged emotionally with the sculpture. He has done this through the careful articulation of his face. Copper is inlaid in his face to highlight the areas in which he has concrete wounds. The use of copper helps in giving color to the wounds, one we would associate with blood. This use has been done magnificently under his eye, which appears to be swollen. The inlay of copper/bronze alloy under his eye is darker and deeper...