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In the Shadow of Myron: The Impact of the Discobolus on Representations of Olympic Sport from Victorian Britain to Contemporary China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)693-718
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number7
Early online date7 Oct 2012
DateE-pub ahead of print - 7 Oct 2012
DatePublished (current) - 28 May 2013


Without doubt, the most famous and instantly recognisable work of art associated with the Olympic Games is Myron's Discobolus. Originally produced in bronze in the fifth century BC, the work is now known primarily through later Roman copies in marble, discovered in Italy during the eighteenth century. Whilst much has been written about the Discobolus as an exemplar of antique art, less attention has been paid to the reception of the work in the modern era. Accordingly, this article shifts attention to the impact made by Myron's work in visual culture produced during the period of the modern Olympic Games; that is from the late nineteenth century to the present day. From Victorian public sculptures, to official Olympic films and posters, and even contemporary art produced for the Beijing Games of 2008, Myron's work has continued to cast an influential shadow over art practices related to the Games themselves, as it has been adopted, adapted and transformed to signify a host of new and frequently diverse meanings. The prominent display of the work at the British Museum in London during the Games of 2012 offers testimony to the work's enduring legacy and its relevance for spectators of the present day.

    Research areas

  • sport; Olympic; Myron; Discobolus; art

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