Once at Mia: A fighter in the ring

Before Doryphoros, before Mia’s grand 24th Street entrance closed for a time, the museum’s rotunda was occupied by a warrior: The Fighter of the Spirit.

"Fighter of the Spirit," acquired in 1959, once stood in Mia's rotunda.

“Fighter of the Spirit,” acquired in 1959, once stood in Mia’s rotunda.

Ernst Barlach’s sculpture of an angel defeating what may be the so-called wolf of materialism or greed became a pacifist symbol when it was created in 1928, in the wake of World War I. Nazis attempted to destroy Barlach’s work, fearful of its call to peace just as they were issuing a call to arms, and managed to cut the angel in half. But Barlach’s admirers salvaged the remains and made copies after World War II. Mia’s version, acquired in 1959, is the only known full-size copy.

This color slide is undated but is probably from the mid-1960s. Doryphoros was purchased in early 1986, sending the angel outdoors, where it stands near the front steps not unlike Barlach’s original sculpture, which stood—and has long since been reinstalled—outside the cathedral in Kiel, Germany.