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Reconstruction of the bronze statue from the Quirinal in Rome of the so-called Terme Boxer

Vinzenz Brinkmann German
Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann

Not on view

Visual and scientific analyses of the original bronze sculptures reconstructed here have revealed extensive surface treatments and applied color. Inlays of copper and other alloys define physical features, such as lips and nipples, and on the so-called boxer indicate bruises and cuts. On the original, the bruise under the right eye, produced from a bronze sheet containing a high amount of lead, enabled an artificial patination in a highly realistic violet color. Semiprecious stones were used for the eyes. Sulphur residues in the corrosion layers of numerous original Greek bronzes suggest that an artificial bronze patina was used to indicate skin color. The boxer is nude except for his boxing gloves, which are of an ancient Greek type with strips of leather attached to a ring around the knuckles and fitted with woolen padding. His foreskin has been tied, as was commonly done at the time for protection and decorum.

"The famous bronze statues from the Quirinal in Rome were found in 1885 during excavation for a theater. Despite the fact that they were found together, the two bronzes came to be known as the Hellenistic "Ruler" and the victorious "Boxer," and in the archaeological literature they were most often treated separately and identified with a wide variety of historical individuals.

The reconstructions presented here follow an interpretation by an American scholar in the 1940's who, on the basis of an Etruscan mirror, posited that the pair depicts a mythological group, namely, an episode from the story of the Argonauts. In Greek mythology, Polydeukes was the son of Zeus and one of the Dioskouroi (twin half-brothers born to the princess Leda, who became a Spartan queen). Amykos was the king of the Bebrykes, a people who lived in northern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) According to the story, Polydeukes defeats Amykos who was in the habit of killing all strangers, in a boxing match, which compelled the Berbrykes to show the Argonauts hospitality.

The figure of the boxer displays heavily bleeding wounds on the face and the ears. The blood, fashioned of copper, is mostly well-preserved, and for the reconstruction it has been restored in those areas where it is missing. In the original, a sheet of bronze with a high lead content was applied underneath the right eye to represent a hematoma. For the reconstruction, this black eye was cast using a comparable alloy, which, together with an artificial patination, resulted in a dark shade of violet. The swollen lips and the nipples were formed separately in copper, and this was imitated for the reconstruction. Garnets were inserted in the larger wounds in order to reproduce the gleaming effect and the density of fresh blood. Both reconstructed statues were artificially patinated and, following an ancient technique, covered with an asphalt lacquer. The eyes were fashioned from polished precious stones, for which there is evidence among surviving bronze statues, and leather straps for binding boxing gloves were added, held in the right hand of the so-called ruler.

The Greek poet Theocritus describes the unequal struggle in a poem about the Dioskouroi Castor and Polydeukes (Pollux in Roman mythology) around 270 BC. The youthful hero Polydeukes dodges the deadly blows of King Amykos and seriously injures him. Polydeukes knocks out the older man's rows of teeth and inflicts heavily bleeding lacerations on his forehead and temples and a severely swelling hematoma under his right eye. Questions remain regarding whether the bronze group repeats the scene described by the poet or whether Theocritus was inspired by the sight of the two sculptures."

Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann

Reconstruction 2018:

Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann

bronze, copper, colored stones, asphalt, linseed oil, madder lake, indigo

H. 1.28 cm.

3-D printing in PMMA and wax: Alexandra Bongartz (scan), Ralf Deuke, Creabis (data processing), voxeljet (printing); bronze casting: Strassacker Co., Süssen; engraving: Karlheinz Fröstel, Philipp Gorges; patination (liver of sulphur): Recep Sari; inlays of lead bronze and copper: Kristina Balzer, Ulrike Dyri; stone carving: Mirco Galle, Groh + Ripp, Tobias Leyser; asphalt lacquer with linseed oil, madder, lake, indigo: Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann

Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung (Liebieghaus Polychromy Research Project), Frankfurt am Main, inv. St.P 722, St.P 723

Scientific methods employed:

Digital microscopy (Olimpia Colacicchi Alessandri, Servizio e Laboratorio di Ristauro)

Thermographic measurements (Fulvio Mercuri, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale, Università degli Studi di Roma "Tor Vergata")

X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) (Marco Ferretti, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto per le Technologie Applicate ai Beni Culturali, Ulderico Santamaria, Laboratorio di Diagnostica per la Conservazione e il Restauro, Università degli Studi della Tuscia)

endoscopy (Olympus Italia)

Raking light imaging (Schott KL 1500 and others)

Visible-reflected imaging (VIS)

Cross section of the bronze cast

Scientific evaluation:

Vinzenz Brinkmann, Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, Heinrich Piening


Salvatore Settis

Oliver Primavesi

Museo Nazionale Romano

Olympus Italy

Sven Becker

Reconstruction of the bronze statue from the Quirinal in Rome of the so-called Terme Boxer, Vinzenz Brinkmann, Bronze cast

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Reconstruction process: Reconstructions of so-called Terme Ruler and so-called Terme Boxer as a group representing Polydeuces and Amycus after the boxing fight and viewing each other. Image Vinzenz Brinkman