About This Artwork


Relief of a Falling Warrior, 2nd century A.D.

53.3 x 81 x 17.5 cm (21 x 31 15/16 x 6 7/8 in.)

Gift of Alfred E. Hamill, 1928.257

Around 435 B.C., the Greek sculptor Phidias enriched the front of the shield at the side of his gold-and-ivory statue of Athena in the Parthenon with scenes of Greeks and Amazons battling in the Trojan War. In Roman times, certain figures from this complex struggle were lifted out of their original context and enlarged to become decorative reliefs for the walls of a colonnade or courtyard.

Here a wounded Greek warrior collapses to the ground after being struck a mortal blow from behind. The dying warrior’s noble countenance, the fillet or ribbon tied around his forehead, and his powerful, athletic body epitomize what Phidias and his pupils sought to project as the ideal of mature male dignity in the decade when Athens was at the height of its power in the eastern Mediterranean world. Some five centuries later, collectors such as the Roman emperor Hadrian sought this Phidian style, translated from a circular golden shield to a rectangular marble relief, to decorate their palaces and villas. Athenian sculptors of the Roman Empire made a good living creating and exporting such memories of past glories. This relief and a number of others were found near Athens in the harbor of Piraeus, where they had been lost in a disaster, likely while awaiting shipment.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 75.

This scene depicts a wounded Greek warrior sinking to the ground after being struck from behind. It was appropriated from a scene depicting a battle between Greeks and Amazons found on the exterior of the shield accompanying the monumental cult statue of the goddess Athena. Created by the famous Greek sculptor Phidias, the statue stood inside the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. Here the warrior was lifted out of the circular composition of the shield and inserted into a rectangular panel that would have decorated a wall.

—Permanent collection and Google Art 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-present.

Publication History

Helen Comstock, “Five Centuries of Greek Sculpture,” International Studio 84 (May–August 1926), p. 33 (ill.)–34.

Art Institute of Chicago, “An Exhibition of Classical Art,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 21, 1 (January 1927), pp. 9–10, (ill.).

Daniel Caton Rich, “A Late Greek Relief,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 23, 6 (September 1929), pp.102–103, (cover ill.).

Ralph Van Deman Magoffin and Emily Cleveland Davis, Magic Spades: The Romance of Archaeology, (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929), pp. 323 (ill.), 328.

A. D. Fraser, “The Sinking Warrior Relief,” in “General Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America,” American Journal of Archaeology 31, 1 (January–March 1930), p. 58.

Paul Jacobsthal, Die Melischen Reliefs, (Berlin-Wilmersdorf: Verlag von Heinrich Keller, 1931), p.152.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide To The Collections, (Art Institute of Chicago, 1935), p. 8 (ill.).

Hans Schrader, “Kopien nach dem Schildrelief,” in Corolla Ludwig Curtius zum sechzigsten Geburtstag dargebracht, ed. Heinrich Bulle (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1937), p. 87, pl. 20, 2.

A.D. Fraser, “The ‘Capaneaus’ Relief of the Villa Albani,” in “Thirty-Eighth General Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America,” American Journal of Archaeology 41, 1 (January–March 1937), p. 109.

A.D. Fraser, “The ‘Capaneus’ Reliefs of the Villa Albani and the Art Institute of Chicago,” American Journal of Archaeology 43, 3 (July–September 1939), pp. 447–457, fig.2.

Frank Brommer, “Zu den Schildreliefs der Athena Parthenos des Phidias,” Marburger Winckelmann-Programm (1948), p. 18 note 11.

Phoibus D. Stavropoullous, I aspis tis Athinas Parthenou tou Pheidiou, (Athens: Archaiologika etaireía, 1950), pp. 48–49, figs. 24–24a.

Giovanni Becatti, Problemi Fidiaci, (Milan: Electa, 1951), p. 114, pl. 67, fig. 202.

Erwin Bielefeld, Amazonomachia: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Motivwanderung in der antiken Kunst, (Halle: Max Neimeyer Verlag, 1951), p.19.

Giulio Quirino Giglioli, Arte Greca: Arte Italico-Etrusca e Romana, (Milan: Casa Editrice Dotor Francesco Vallardi, 1955) pp. 407–408, fig. 338.

Dietrich von Bothmer, Amazons in Greek Art, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957), p. 211, pl. 87, fig. 7.

Barbara Schlorb, “Beitrage zur Schildamazonichie der Athena Parthenos,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteiung 78 (1963), p. 168.

Kristian Jeppesen, “Bild und Mythus an dem Parthenon,” Acta Archaeologica 34 (1963), p. 13, fig. 1s.

Adolf Furtwängler, Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture: A Series of Essays on the History of Art, second edition (Chicago: Argonaut Publishers, 1964), plate C, fig. C2, plate F fig. F1.

Cornelius C. Vermeule III, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Sculptures in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, American Journal of Archaeology 68, 4 (October, 1964), p. 326.

Paolo Enrico Arias, Problemi di Scultura Greca, (Bologna: R. Pàtron, 1965), p. 377.

Evelyn B. Harrison, “The Composition of the Amazonomachy on the Shield of Athena Parthenos,” Hesperia 35, 2 (April–June 1966), p. 115.

Volker Michael Strocka, Piräusreliefs und Parthenosschild: Versuch einer Wiederherstellung der Amazonomachie des Phidias, (Berlin: Wasmuth, 1967), pp. 69–71, cat. 13, fig. 27.

Neda Leipen, Athena Parthenos: A Reconstruction, (Royal Ontario Museum, 1971), pp. 9, 45.

Theodosia Stephanidou, “Neoattika: hoi anaglyphoi pinakes apo to limani tou Peiraia,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Thessaloniki, 1979), pp. 15, 51 n. 5, 56 n. 3, 75 n. 3, 5 –8, 76 n. 1–2, 78 n. 7, 109, pl. 42.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Calendar,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 75, 2, (April–June 1981), p. 17 (ill.).

Cornelius C. Vermeule III, Greek and Roman Sculpture in America: Masterpieces in Public Collections in the United States and Canada, (Malibu/ Berkeley: University of California Press/J.Paul Getty Museum, 1981), pp. 21, 44, fig. 18, colorplate 4.

Evelyn B. Harrison, “Two Pheidian Heads: Nike and Amazon," in The Eye of Greece: Studies in the Art of Athens, ed. Donna Kurtz and Brian Sparkes (Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 58, pl. 16d.

Peter Bol, Forschungen zur Villa Albani: Katalog der antike Bildwerke, Vol. 2 (Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1990) pp. 106–107.

Karen Alexander, “The New Galleries of Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago,” Minerva 5, 3 (May–June 1994), p. 34, fig. 13.

Sally Vallongo, “Toledo Curator Gives Chicago a Hand with its Old Treasures,” Toledo Blade, (August 17, 1994,) p. P-1 (ill.).

Cornelius C. Vermeule III, “Roman Art,” in Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, 20, 1 (1994), pp. 70–72, cat. 48, fig. 48.

Evelyn B Harrison, “Pheidias,” in Personal Styles in Greek Sculpture, ed. Olga Palagia and J. J. Pollitt (Cambridge University Press), fig. 14 and cover ill.

Claire Cullen Davison, Pheidias: The Sculptures and Ancient Sources, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Supplement 105, vol. 1, (Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Studies, 2009), pp. 244–245, cat. 131, Vol. 3, p. 1306, fig. 6.56.

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.29.

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