The Falling Gladiator

William Rimmer American, born England
Cast by John Williams American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 700

The Boston-based Rimmer was a practicing physician with a superb command of anatomy. He turned to sculpture in the late 1850s, eventually abandoning his medical practice to head a successful art school. In this work, Rimmer conveys the wounded warrior’s physical stress by accentuating his rippling skin and the taut, straining muscles beneath. The tension between the raised arm and the dramatic, collapsing posture enhances the work’s emotional intensity and reflects Rimmer’s fascination with figures that rise and fall simultaneously. Although classical in theme, "The Falling Gladiator" differs from most contemporaneous American sculptures because it lacks a specific literary reference. He rendered the figure with a blunt sword—an element that would identify him as a Gaul, perhaps an association with the artist’s father who, according to family legend, lost a valid claim to the throne of France in his youth. The sculpture was rejected from the Paris Salon, a prestigious annual exhibition, allegedly because the judges thought it was cast from a live model. The Met bronze was produced posthumously in 1907 from a plaster cast after Rimmer’s original plaster (now Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC).

#95. The Falling Gladiator, Part 1



  1. 95. The Falling Gladiator, Part 1
  2. 95. The Falling Gladiator, Part 2
The Falling Gladiator, William Rimmer (American (born England), Liverpool 1816–1879 South Milford, Massachusetts), Bronze, American

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.