The beautiful ancient Greek statue known as the 'Boxer at Rest' is one of the highlights of the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.
The bronze sculpture, which scholars have dated anywhere from the late fourth century to the middle of the first century BCE, depicts a boxer seated with his arms resting on his knees. His head, complete with a boxer's trademark broken nose and cauliflower ears, is turned to the right. The figure is naked apart from his boxing gloves, an ancient Greek device known as a caestus, which took the form of strips of leather attached to a ring, which was worn around the knuckles.
The statue was discovered on the Quirinal hill, near the Baths of Constantine, in 1885. The eminent Roman archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani (1845-1929), who was present at its unearthing, later wrote: "I have witnessed, in my long career in the active field of archaeology, many discoveries; I have experienced surprise after surprise; I have sometimes and most unexpectedly met with real masterpieces; but I have never felt such an extraordinary impression as the one created by the sight of this magnificent specimen of a semi-barbaric athlete, coming slowly out of the ground, as if awakening from a long repose after his gallant fights."
The 'Boxer at Rest' is one of the few Greek bronze statues to have survived from antiquity.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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