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Charles H. Niehaus, born Cincinnati, OH 1855-died Cliffside Park, NJ 1935
modeled 1883
35 in. (88.8 cm)
Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Marie J. Niehaus
Restrictions & Rights
Object number
Luce Center Label
A caestus is a battle glove that was the ancient world’s equivalent of brass knuckles. Greek and Roman gladiators made these by wrapping leather around lead, metal studs, or even stones to add force to their punches. The matches became so bloody, however, that the caestus was banned in the first century AD. Charles Niehaus modeled this fighter while studying in Rome, where he learned to portray the human figure by copying ancient Italian sculptures and monuments. In this work, he rendered the fighter in great anatomical detail, emphasizing the clenched muscles in the combatant’s face as he concentrates on creating his caestus.
Data Source
Smithsonian American Art Museum
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Painting and Sculpture
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Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, W320
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor