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Jan 20, 2013

LYSIPPUS' BOXER IS RESTING AT PALAZZO MASSIMO.




One of the highlights at Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (main seat of the National Roman Museum) is undoubtedly the Boxer at rest:  a magnificent bronze statue long attributed to Apollonius (1st century b.C).  Recent studies prove that it is certainly by Lysippus (340 b.C.) the greatest Greek sculptor known for his meticulous attention to detail. The mistake was due to the alleged existence of an inscription on his left glove strings showing Apollonius' signature. Lysippus was a restless artist:  (more than 1500 works are attributed to him and his workshop).  Unfortunately most of his works are lost and we have mostly Roman replicas of his statues.  His masterpieces were moved to Rome as spoils (as the Apoxiomenos on display at the Vatican Museums) and then sent to Constantinople (when the capital was moved). Just a few survived.
The Greek bronze statue was discovered in 1885 on the Quirinal hill while building the Teatro Drammatico Nazionale (closed in 1929).  The area was originally the site of Constantine Baths.
It has been suggested that it could represent the Olympic athlete Theogenes.  Probably it's not a true portrait  but a generic character of boxer.  It is surprisingly well preserved (except for the eye balls).  His hands are protected by boxing gloves.  
Formed by eight separately cast segments. The lip, wounds and scars on his face were originally inlaid with copper and further copper inlays are used for drops of blood on his bruised body. The fingers were worn from being rubbed by passers-by in ancient times.  It's the muscular and noble body of a middle aged man revealing scars, marks and deformities caused by such a violent profession.  His expression suggests also weariness and a sort of resignation.  Even if the Boxer is 'at rest' the pose does not diminish his strenght.  His head is turned as if someone had caught his attention in that precise moment.

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