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sculpture, plaster

Object / Artefact › Applied Arts and Design
  • Other titles
    • Dying Galatian
    • Statue of the Dying Galatian
    • Dying Gaul
    • Dying Gladiator
  • Description
    sculpture, plaster reproduction of classical (antique) Dying Galatian. In 1878, the Auckland Museum in Princes Street received a gift of 33 casts of antique statuary from a wealthy expatriate Aucklander, Thomas Russell. John Logan Campbell saw the opportunity to establish the first free school of art in Auckland to be located in the Museum. The statues were used as models for figure drawing. Other classical statues were subsequently donated.

    Hellenistic, ca. 240-200 B.C.
    Male nude: Dying Gaul
    Bronze original at Pergamum is lost
    Marble copy: Capitoline Museum, Rome
    Height 0.93 m.
    Applied Arts Collection*
    Logan Campbell Gallery

    The Dying Gaul portrays a mortally wounded Gallic warrior fallen on his shield and is a frank depiction of the poignancy of defeat and death.

    The composition of the larger-than-life sculpture combines the simplicity and restraint of the earlier Classical style with the realism and emotional impact of Hellenistic sculpture. The marble statue of the Dying Gaul seen in the Capitoline Museum is identified as a copy of an earlier bronze sculpture commissioned by King Attalus 1 of Pergamum. Attalus defeated an army of invading Gauls, the Galatians, in 241 B.C. and to mark this victory he erected statues of dying or captive Gauls in Pergamum and Athens.

    The original sculpture of the Dying Gaul was erected at the sanctuary of Athena in the city Pergamum, as one of a circle of half-incumbent figures surrounding a central group featuring a despairing Gallic warrior and his dying wife.** The Dying Gaul is depicted in the prime of life. His body is muscular and he is naked except for a thick, twisted torque or collar around his neck. His tousled hair is cut short and he wears a moustache. A gaping wound is visible on his right side. A broken, curved trumpet lies beneath the Gaul's body. A baldric or sword belt, with a plain buckle, lies discarded together with a long-sword, under the Gaul's right hand. The sword blade is broken. The hilt is decorated with a scrolled crossguardand a pommel, or top-knob, in the shapeof an exotic animal head. The exhausted warrior is slowly falling into unconsciousness. His head is lowered and his face bears the grimace of deathas he struggles to support his upper body with his right arm.

    Bibliography and notes:
    Boardman, Greek Art, pgs. 226-241: Hellenistic sculpture.
    Boardman, Greek Sculpture, gives a full account of Hellenistic sculpture.
    Blackley, Greek Sculptures in the Auckland War Memorial Museum, gives a full account of the replica statues in Auckland Museum.
    (Blackley, R. 1988. The Greek Statues in the Museum. Art New Zealand 48: 96-99).

    And what’s more, we appear to hold this serial (Location: NZ Collection Serials; Call No. ND1106 ART),

    *The plaster replica was made in the cast workshop of Brucciani's Galleria delle Belle Arti in Russell St, Covent, Garden London.
    ** Marble copy in the Roman National Museum.
    Stewart, Greek Sculpture.

    Education Kit
    ‘Ancient Greek And Roman Collections (Years 11 to 13)’
    Auckland Museum Te Papa Whakahiku
    © Auckland Museum 2002

    Dying Gaul
    Hellenistic ca. 240-200 B.C.
    Male nude: the Dying Gaul
    Bronze original at Pergamum is lost
    Plaster copy of a marble statue in the Capitoline
    Museum, Rome
    Height 0.93 m.
    Applied Arts Collection
  • Place
  • Other Number
  • Accession date
    5 August 1878
  • Collection area
  • Item count
  • Record richness
dying gaul, after treatment
dying gaul, after treatment


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