For one thing…this amazing work from the 1st or 2nd c. CE, a copy after a Greek original. Called The Dying Gaul, the sculpture was discovered in Rome in the early 17th c. It was first mentioned in writing in 1623…around the time Bernini was working for Cardinal Scipio Borghese.
This is the kind of work that also inspired Donatello and Michelangelo, although they never saw this particular sculpture. But Rodin knew it, as well as every other great sculptor in the Western tradition.
It’s on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. until March 16, 2014.
Here’s the press release from the NGA, and an article about the work from today’s Washington Post with additional views.
This article really helps us to understand the massive effect Greek and Roman art has on artists. This statue’s fame spread like wild fire when it was first revealed to the public and went on to inspire thousands of artists in Europe, which is far from a small feat. In addition, the article also provides much needed back story on this statue and the defeat of the tribe the statue is based on.
When reading this article, I found it very interesting how a piece of art so old has never left Italian soil until now. Especially considering how much of an influence roman art has had on the rest of the world. It makes me wonder what other pieces of art have not had the chance to be shared and appreciated around the world? I think the message of dignity when facing death, portrayed with the statue, is something many other cultures would relate to and could be seen in their own artwork.
After reading the article I didn’t quite understand how such an amazing sculpture was never bought by anyone. Especially since its been around before the 15th century. There are many other sculptures that are still in their place of origin. For example there is David, by Donatello, and St. George of Donatello. It was pretty clear that he inspired Michelangelo, and Donatello. They were some of the most famous sculptures of their time. This article did an fantastic job describing the true meaning of the sculpture. What i find cool about these artworks is that they always seem to tell a story of those sculpted.
I actually saw The Dying Gaul while it was at the National Gallery of Art, and after reading this article, I wish I had appreciated it more. I did not realize that it was the first time the statue had ever been on American soil. That makes it feel like a true honor for me to have seen it in person, for free, so close to where I live–this statue has existed for close to two thousand years and people have traveled far to see and study it. The fact that I saw it and can be inspired by it, and someone like Rodin saw it and was also inspired is amazing and slightly mind boggling to me. It doesn’t seem like we can be connected through this piece of art, but we are. I also think this piece is important because of the humanity and reality it portrays. It is hard to look away.
After reading this article and the Washington Post’s article, it’s clear that although this statue seems fairly simple and straight forward, there is a lot more to it than just meets the eye. The way it has been analyzed over the years yet still is shrouded in mystery is fascinating, though typical of much ancient art. The Washington Post article pointed out some details that can’t simply be seen in a photograph such as a marking on the man’s ankle, and a necklace around his neck identifying him as a Gaul and not a Roman or Greek citizen or dignitary. Since Gauls harassed the Greeks and Romans, I find it interesting that there is a statue of one at all with such detail. However, the fact that he has fallen and appears near death may have been a threat to the Gauls.