The Dying Gaul: An Ancient Roman Masterpiece from the Capitoline Museum, Rome opens today at the National Gallery of Art. On view in the West Building Main Floor Rotunda through 16 March 2014, the Dying Gaul is among the most famous works to survive from antiquity. This is the first time the statue has left Italy since 1797, when Napoleon’s armies looted the sculpture to display at the Louvre in Paris. The work was returned to Rome in 1816.
The work is a marble copy of a work originally made in the ancient city of Pergamon (Turkey). The monument was set up as a votive offering, as the original inscription celebrated: “King Attalos having conquered in battle the Tolistoagii Gauls around the springs of the river Kaikos [set up this] thank-offering to Athena.” This particular version was in gardens belonging to Julius Caesar in Rome.