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About This Artwork
Relief of a Falling Warrior, 2nd century AD
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
This work appears in the online catalogue Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring art historical essays and conservation reports on artworks from the ancient Roman world in the Art Institute’s collection. Entries include new high-resolution photography, stunning 360-degree views of the works, and in-depth technical imaging and analysis. The volume is free to the public.
Art Institute of Chicago, An Exhibition of Classical Art, c. January 1927–?, no cat.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Myth and Legend in Classical Art, Gallery 101A, March 1, 1987-August 31, 1987.
Art Institute of Chicago, Sculpture from the Classical Collection, September 1, 1987–August 31, 1988, no cat.
Art Institute of Chicago, The Human Figure in Greek and Roman Art: From the Permanent Collection, Part 2, January 13, 1989–February 21, 1990, no cat.
Art Institute of Chicago, What’s Greek about a Roman Copy?, April 9–June 2, 2011, no cat.
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.
Katharine A. Raff, “Cat. 11 Relief of a Falling Warrior: Curatorial Entry,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).
Rachel C. Sabino, with contributions by Lorenzo Lazzarini, “Cat. 11 Relief of a Falling Warrior: Technical Report,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).
The Art Institute of Chicago, The Essential Guide (Art Institute of Chicago, 2013), p. 75.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sally Vallongo, “Toledo Curator Gives Chicago a Hand with its Old Treasures,” Toledo Blade, (August 17, 1994) p. P-1 (ill.).
Karen Alexander, “The New Galleries of Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago,” Minerva 5, 3 (May–June 1994), p. 34, fig. 13.
Peter Bol, Forschungen zur Villa Albani: Katalog der antike Bildwerke, vol. 2 (Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1990), pp. 106–107.
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.
Cornelius C. Vermeule III, Greek and Roman Sculpture in America: Masterpieces in Public Collections in the United States and Canada, (University of California Press/J.Paul Getty Museum, 1981), pp. 21, 44, fig. 18, color plate 4.
Art Institute of Chicago, “Calendar,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 75, 2 (April–June 1981), p. 17 (ill.).
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.
Neda Leipen, Athena Parthenos: A Reconstruction, (Royal Ontario Museum, 1971), pp. 9, 45.
Volker Michael Strocka, Piräusreliefs und Parthenosschild: Versuch einer Wiederherstellung der Amazonomachie des Phidias, (Wasmuth, 1967), pp. 69–71, cat. 13, fig. 27.
Evelyn B. Harrison, “The Composition of the Amazonomachy on the Shield of Athena Parthenos,” Hesperia 35, 2 (April–June 1966), p. 115.
Paolo Enrico Arias, Problemi di Scultura Greca, (R. Pàtron, 1965), p. 377.
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.
Adolf Furtwängler, Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture: A Series of Essays on the History of Art, second edition (Argonaut Publishers, 1964), plate C, fig. C2, plate F fig. F1.
Kristian Jeppesen, “Bild und Mythus an dem Parthenon,” Acta Archaeologica 34 (1963), p. 13, fig. 1s.
Barbara Schlorb, “Beitrage zur Schildamazonichie der Athena Parthenos,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteiung 78 (1963), p. 168.
Dietrich von Bothmer, Amazons in Greek Art, (Clarendon Press, 1957), p. 211, pl. 87, fig. 7.
Giulio Quirino Giglioli, Arte Greca: Arte Italico-Etrusca e Romana, (Casa Editrice Dotor Francesco Vallardi, 1955), pp. 407–408, fig. 338.
Erwin Bielefeld, Amazonomachia: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Motivwanderung in der antiken Kunst (Max Neimeyer Verlag, 1951), p. 19.
Giovanni Becatti, Problemi Fidiaci (Electa, 1951), p. 114, pl. 67, fig. 202.
Phoibus D. Stavropoullous, I aspis tis Athinas Parthenou tou Pheidiou, (Archaiologika etaireía, 1950), pp. 48–49, figs. 24–24a.
Frank Brommer, “Zu den Schildreliefs der Athena Parthenos des Phidias,” Marburger Winckelmann-Programm (1948), p. 18 note 11.
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.
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.
Hans Schrader, “Kopien nach dem Schildrelief,” in Corolla Ludwig Curtius zum sechzigsten Geburtstag dargebracht, ed. Heinrich Bulle (Kohlhammer, 1937), p. 87, pl. 20, 2.
Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide To The Collections, (Art Institute of Chicago, 1935), p. 8 (ill.).
Paul Jacobsthal, Die Melischen Reliefs, (Verlag von Heinrich Keller, 1931), p.152.
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.
Ralph Van Deman Magoffin and Emily Cleveland Davis, Magic Spades: The Romance of Archaeology, (Henry Holt and Company, 1929), pp. 323 (ill.), 328.
Daniel Caton Rich, “A Late Greek Relief,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 23, 6 (September 1929), pp. 102–103, (cover ill.).
Art Institute of Chicago, “An Exhibition of Classical Art,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 21, 1 (January 1927), pp. 9–10, (ill.).
Helen Comstock, “Five Centuries of Greek Sculpture,” International Studio 84 (May–August 1926), p. 33 (ill.)–34.