Seated Boxer Vs Statue of David by Donatello


The current paper is the analysis of the two sculptures. The first one is the Seated Boxer, which depicts a naked roman athlete. The second one is the statue of David by Donatello, which shows the naked David in his young years. King David was an icon in the Renaissance and baroque periods. He became a prominent subject in the works of many artists, and he was also an example for the history and culture of the time. Hellenistic sculpture depicts the naturalism of the body’s form and its expression. The extent of realism achieves the point when the sculptures bring up an emotional response. Just like in the current case, both sculptures are nude people. The two artworks are almost the same in terms of the theme, which is power and pathos. The current essay attempts to evaluate the two sculptures of different periods and cultures. It aims to assess the style and their ability to illustrate power and pathos.

Stylistic Analysis

The Seated Boxer is a Hellenistic sculpture by Lyssipus of Sikyon is made of bronze. It depicts a naked roman athlete that used to fight for the entertainment of the Roman citizens. In the sculpture of the Seated Boxer the athlete’s facial expression suggests that he has lost the battle. The artist showed bruises on the face, as he has swollen ears. The elements show the viewer that the boxer was battered. On the other hand, Donatello’s sculpture of David depicts David in his nudity. The author depicts David with an enchanting smile as if to show how he was happy to have conquered his foe Goliath. Donatello made is a head located in between David’s feet with one of his legs resting on it. The aspect gives the viewer the idea that the head belongs to Goliath, whom David has conquered. Both of the sculptures invoke mixed emotions in the viewer. The Seated Boxer causes feelings of remorse and sympathy for the boxer, as well as the experience of shame. From the sculpture of David, the viewer gets the feelings of joy and power.

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The style that been used in the Seated Boxer by Lyssipus of Sikyon is presenting the shift from the idealistic style to the expressionism. The sculpture can be described as Hellenistic. Moreover, it depicts a sense of accurate realism, which is presented as a mixture of tension in a posture and expression of emotions. The noticeable characteristics of the sculpture include the boxer’s broken nose, the swollen ears, and torn gloves on his hand. His facial expression seems to be a disquieted exhaustion. The expression on the boxer’s face plays a crucial role in perceiving the statue. During the Hellenistic period, the artists used to focus on every aspect of life, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. They did not just look at the beauty and elegance. Thus, the statue depicts the defeat in the Hellenistic life. Therefore, it presents the different aspect of living, which includes the embarrassing moments of failure. The use of art as an avenue for communicating the lives of the common people was a huge leap in the artistic work during the time. In the Roman Empire, in order to gain victory in boxing, one had to make his opponent submit or better to knock him out. The boxing duel in the Roman Empire required athletes to wear little clothing and textile gloves. Since the sculpture is about a fighter, whose main objective was to entertain the Roman people, who wanted to recognize and celebrate the achievements of a common man.  

Cultural Analysis

Before Donatello’s work, David was depicted as a King. However, the author shows David nude and in his prime young years. In the classical world, the artists reserve to nudity to show majestic people, Gods, heroes, and athletes. In the sculpture, Donatello attempts to present a type of heroic nudity of the King through crafting the story from the Bible. The artist tries to depict David’s young and tender body with the hint of innocence. In the sculpture, David is a teenager, so his muscles have not yet developed fully. Therefore, he does not have the strength to hold the sword that Goliath had. The phenomenon was used by Donatello to depict that David’s victory over the huge man was achieved through the intervention of a higher being or power. Therefore, the sculpture shows that the defeat of Goliath was the God’s work rather than David’s.

On the other hand,  the Seated Boxer presents a different picture. In ancient Rome, the people used to embrace fighting as a form of entertainment for the citizens and the elite. Therefore, the powerful and strong warriors were recruited to fight on the arena. The majority of boxers were slaves in Rome, and they had to fight all opponents to win and earn their freedom. The Seated Boxer sculpture depicts one of the elements of ancient Roman cultures, which was boxing. Thus, the authors show a good representation the Roman entertainment peculiarities. 

Historical Analysis

David’s sculpture by Donatello is a classical art of the Renaissance with its typical Christian subject matter. However, the sculpture was viewed as a revolutionary art during its period. The reason for the perception is the explicit nudity of David. Another reason for its revolutionary nature is that Donatello chose to depict David in his young age even before his circumcision. Thus, the controversy resulted in initial refusal to accept the sculpture by the public. 

Both sculptures analyzed in the current paper show that their creation was a leap in the art industry. The artists managed to invoke the feelings and emotions in the viewer, and they adopted unconventional approaches in their period. The sculptures show the mixture of emotion, expression, human beauty, and tension. The artists use the realistic elements to make the viewer sympathize the sculptures. Through expressionism, the artists managed to create connection between viewers and sculptures. 

The analysis of the two sculptures derives the conclusion that although the two artworks were from different periods and cultures, they had the same theme. It was passed to the viewer through the nudity of human body to invoke emotions of the viewer. The sculpture of David shares the emotions of victory, while the Seated Boxer depicts the feeling of defeat. The theme of both sculptures may be seen as extremely realistic and emotional. They capture the power element perfectly, since they capture the reality of the world. In the Seated Boxer, the artist apprehended the pain and anguish for defeat. The David’s sculpture perfectly created happiness and joy for conquering Goliath.

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The Seated Boxer presents the image of common people, which was a huge leap in the art. Moreover, the use of nudity to depict David, who is a biblical hero and a legend, was a big artistic change. It is important to note that the two sculptures have similar style, even though they portray different expressions. The Seated Boxer presents defeat, while David’s sculpture by Donatello depicts victory. The artists that created the sculptures changed the history by using the different styles that had not been fully embraced by the people in the period. The Seated Boxer is a common person, which was unbelievable approach since most artists presented Gods, rulers, heroes, and athletes. Moreover, the sculpture by Donatello presented a nude sculptures on the Bible hero. It was the artwork never done before. Therefore, when a viewer looks at the expressions and postures of the people in sculpture, he or she can feel what the sculptor wanted to pass across to the audience, whether it is victory or defeat.

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