Borghese Warrior

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Borghese Gallery


Lysippus (fl. c. 370—315 bc)

Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598—1680) Italian baroque sculptor, painter, and architect

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Marble statue (Louvre, Paris) of a nude warrior in a vigorous attitude of combat (his sword and shield are missing, but he is evidently lunging at an opponent on horseback in a type of pose that has been described as a ‘heroic diagonal’). It was discovered in 1611 at Nettuno (near Anzio), had entered the Borghese collection by 1613, and was bought by Napoleon (brother-in-law of Prince Camillo Borghese) in 1807. The statue is signed by ‘Agasias, son of Dositheos, Ephesian’ and is usually considered to be a copy of a Hellenistic work influenced by Lysippus. It became famous soon after its discovery and for two centuries it was one of the most admired and copied of antique statues, praised particularly for its anatomical mastery: Bernini's David (made for the statue's then owner, Cardinal Scipione Borghese) is an early instance of a derivation from it. It is now much less admired as a work of art, Martin Robertson (A History of Greek Art, 1975) describing it as ‘harsh and unappealing’.

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