The Borgese Warrior

WAG 5088


The drawing was inspired by the ancient sculpture of the Borghese warrior and it is a a side view of the original sculpture. Campiglia created a close copy of the sculpture but perhaps less dynamic in the pose.The original sculpture has the signature of Agasias of Ephesus, son of Dositheus and was believed to recall the work of the ancient sculptire Lysippos, the great bronze sculptor of the fourth century BC but it wasa more of the style of the Pergamene school and its sculptor Agasias who revived the athletic heroism of Lysippos, blending it with the pathos of the Hellenistic period. Since its discovery in the early seventeenth century, the Borghese Gladiator has been praised as an aesthetic model of the male nude in motion. It was endlessly copied, modeled and adapted by both modern and contemporary artists. The statue was unearthed south of Rome, at Anzio (ancient Antium), during excavations carried out under the aegis of Cardinal Scipion Borghese. The Cardinal added it to his collection shortly before 1611, and it was restored by Nicolas Cordier, who completed it by adding the right arm. In 1808, the statue left Italy for the Louvre, following the purchase of the collection by Napoleon I from his brother-in-law, Prince Camille Borghese. For a long time, it was erroneously thought that the figure was a gladiator (despite the fact that the Greeks did not hold gladiatorial circus entertainments), before the shield strap on its left arm identified him as a warrior. Our hero defends himself energetically, thrusting his torso forward in a movement that is both defensive and self-protective. Protected behind his shield, he prepares to riposte, his face turned sharply towards his opponent (perhaps a horseman?). This is one of the artworks presented by the Liverpool Royal Institution. Liverpool’s economic development grew directly from Britain’s involvement with transatlantic slavery: the kidnapping, enslavement and forced migration of people from West Africa to the Americas and many to the Caribbean. Many members of the Royal Institution made their fortunes directly through the trade or indirectly through the wider economy. This wealth was largely how they were able to bring rare art and treasures, such as this, to the city.