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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Boy with Thorn

Boy with Thorn - Musei Capitolini

Boy with Thorn

The “Boy with Thorn” is a Greco-Roman Hellenistic bronze sculpture of a naked boy sitting on a rock pulling a thorn from the bottom of his foot. The boy has been identified as a young shepherd. The image of the extraction of a thorn from the foot was invented in the Hellenistic period.

It originated from the Greek’s interest in observing everyday life actions and representing real-life situations. Many copies have been made of this image in bronze and marble. In this sculpture, the head, body, and rocky seat were cast together as one piece.

The statue had also been given the title “The faithful boy”  based on an ancient story invented to give this masterpiece a more heroic tale. The faithful messenger was a shepherd boy. He first delivered his message to the Roman Senate, and only after his duty was done, did he stop to remove a painful thorn from his foot. The Roman Senate commemorated the event by commissioning the bronze statue.

Several Hellenistic marble variants that have been discovered, such as the “Thorn-Puller” at the British Museum. However, none match the qualities of the bronze. Thus recent scholarship has credited this statue as a Roman bronze copy of the third century CE, with a head adapted from an archaic prototype.

Boy with Thorn

  • Title:                    Boy with Thorn
  • Date:                    3rd century BCE
  • Material:             Bronze
  • Museums:           Capitoline Museums

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“As the picture teaches the coloring, so sculpture the anatomy of form.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Photo Credit:1) By Yair Haklai (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons 

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