About This Artwork


Head of Mars, 2nd century A.D.

59.2 x 29.5 x 37.8 cm (23 1/3 x 11 5/8 x 14 7/8 in.)

Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund, 1984.1

Roman sculpture reached its most massive scale during the second century A.D., when enormous statues were created to adorn public buildings such as baths, theaters, and temples. This over-life-size head once belonged to a monumental statue of Mars, the Roman god of war, who is commonly associated with the Greek god Ares. Here the stern-faced deity wears a magnificent helmet decorated with griffins, fantastical winged beasts associated with Nemesis, the goddess of revenge. On each cheek guard is an image of Cupid, the god of desire, carrying a spear and shield. In Roman religion, Mars was closely associated with Cupid’s mother, Venus (the Greek Aphrodite), the goddess of love.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, Sculpture From the Classical Collection, Gallery 101A, September 1, 1987 - August 31, 1988.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 156, April 20, 1994 - February 6, 2012.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Of Gods and Glamour: The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, Gallery 152, November 11, 2012 - April 2, 2015.

Publication History

Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1983-84, p. 47.

Louise Berge, "A War God in Chicago," The Ancient World 10, 3-4 (1984) p. 66.

Cornelius C. Vermeule III, "Ancient Art at The Art Institute of Chicago," The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 20, 1 (1994), p. 75 (ill.).

Karen B. Alexander, "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester, (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p.39.

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