The Falling Gladiator

Copied William Rimmer, The Falling Gladiator, 1861, plaster, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Caroline Hunt Rimmer, 1915.5.1
Free to use

Artwork Details

Title
The Falling Gladiator
Date
1861
Dimensions
6443 1840 14 in. (162.5109.5104.8 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of Caroline Hunt Rimmer
Mediums
Mediums Description
plaster
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure male — nude
  • History — ancient — Rome
  • Occupation — sport — athlete
  • State of being — death
Object Number
1915.5.1

Artwork Description

William Rimmer based this sculpture of a mortally wounded man on works from ancient Greece and Rome. But its subject echoed the suffering of the United States on the eve of war. When the artist began work in January of 1861, six states had seceded from the Union, and the attack on Fort Sumter was just three months away. Rimmer worked as a doctor, and his critics at first accused him of casting the sculpture on a real human body. As the conflict wore on, however, they praised his representation of torment and suffering, relating it to the grim fate of Americans at war with one another.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006