Fritz Bürki & Son (Zurich, Switzerland), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1988.
Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 216, Roman Treasury
Statuette of a Gladiator
Roman Empire (Place Created)
about A.D. 50
5.9 cm (2 5/16 in.)
Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman
With the closed visor of his helmet completely covering his face, a gladiator strides forward in an attack. A curved rectangular shield protects his left arm and he holds his short sword in his right hand. He wears a variety of other armor including a metal belt at his waist, leather straps wrapped around his right arm and his thighs, and greaves protect his shins.
Gladiatorial combats were an extremely popular form of entertainment in the Roman world. Gladiators were mostly men with few other options, such as slaves, criminals, or prisoners of war, although a few free men chose this risky career. Every gladiator had a specialty, identified by his armor and weapons. Many of the standard types originated from prisoners of war fighting in their native armor. Due to the sport's popularity, small figures of gladiators, made of either
True, Marion, and Kenneth Hamma, eds. A Passion For Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), pp. 288-89, cat. no. 149.
"Museum Acquisitions Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1998." The Report of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1997-98), p. 66.