Northwest Chapter

Wrestling the Beasts in the Coliseum

Artist: Frans Floris de Vriendt the Elder
Date: 1563
Dimensions: 130 x 187 cm
Material: Oil on wood

This painting illustrates a battle of men who are fighting with wild beasts, including lions and a leopard. This scene is given depth and texture by the contrast between the bare human skin and the fur of the exotic animals. In the background is the view of an amphitheater, which may be the Coliseum. The artist’s monogram and the date of completion are written on the pedestal: HF 1563. The scene ideally reproduces the fight against the wild beasts in the arena and the Bestiari fighters who voluntarily faced wild animals with their bare hands in exchange for money and fame.

Floris was born in Antwerp around 1519 to a family of sculptors. After initial training as a sculptor, Floris moved to Liege to study with the painter Lambert Lombard. In 1540 Floris returned to Antwerp and became the Master of the Guild. Between 1541 and 1545 he traveled to Italy and specifically to Rome, where he produced many drawings of ancient sculptures and reliefs.

His major work is the painting for the altar of St. Michael in Antwerp depicting the Fall of Rebel Angels (1554). Floris’ works on historical themes were essential for the painters of historical scenes of the next generation, especially for the art of Rubens.

Restoration Process Included:

  • Cleaning of the overall surface
  • Remove the old support system and repair of the junctions
  • Creation of a new mechanical support with adjustable springs that can flex as needed
  • Cleaning and touching up of the gaps
  • Reintegration of the pictorial surface
  • Reapplication and balancing of the protective varnish
  • Photographic documentation
  • Cleaning and restoration of the gilded frame

Restoration details:  http://www.vatican-patrons.org/fighting-with-the-beasts-in-the-colosseum-3949

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