The Knockdown

  • Mahonri Young, The Knockdown, 1931, bronze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mahonri Sharp Young, 1976.122.1

Luce Center Label

Mahonri Young loved sports when he was a boy and often attended boxing matches with his younger brother, Wally. On a trip to Paris in 1926, he began his popular Prizefighter series, which includes The Knockdown. Images of sporting events and athletes were very popular in the American art market during the 1920s and 1930s, and Young's pieces, which emphasize the excitement and danger of boxing, brought him widespread recognition. Here, he captured the moment when the loser falls to the mat, emphasizing his defeat by making his body appear to melt into the base of the sculpture. The winner, in contrast, seems to spring upward as he follows through with a devastating left hook.

Luce Object Quote
"To me the problem has always been to animate the inert and lifeless material, whether bronze, stone, or wood, and to make it function like one of nature’s own creations." The artist, quoted in Toone, Mahonri Young: His Life and Art, 1997
The Knockdown
25 1/2 x 30 3/4 x 17 in. (64.7 x 78.0 x 43.2 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mahonri Sharp Young

Mediums Description
  • Portrait male – Dempsey, Jack
  • Portrait male – Firpo, Luis Angel
  • Occupation – sport – boxing
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