Statue of Theseus or Mars


About this object

An over life size male, heroic statue, previously identified as Theseus, the celebrated Athenian hero. The statue was known from the 16th century as Mars and probably had his identity changed by Blundell's time. The club he holds in his right arm and the ornamented Attic helmet are common in Roman sculpture but mainly for Roman statues of Mars. Theseus would not have been represented in a Roman context but not even in a Greek one as the protector of Athens and he would not have a helmet. The soft and pretty features of the statue may indicate that this is Mars as a companion to Venus. The hero is portrayed naked with the right leg bent slightly and the left arm leaning on a support. The pose is similar to the Ares Borghese, although the body is much slimmer. The legs appear slightly bigger than the body.
Recent examination suggested that the statue is made of three parts: the head, torso and both legs did not belong to the same statue and indicate that the restoration must have been taken place in the 16th century although it was unusual for restorers to use pieces from different statues. The statue is a testimony to the extraordinary skills of the 16th century restorers some of which worked for the Cardinal Ippolito d'Este. The oval shape of the head is a feature of the classicising style of Roman perfod as is the unemotive expression and the flat planes of the brow.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    2nd Century AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    2130 mm x 860 mm x 630 mm
  • Note
    The statue was believed by Blundell to have been housed in the villa of the emperor Hadrian at Tivoli but this belief was unfounded. It was most likely purchased from the dealer Pacetti, probably during Blundell's 1790 trip to Italy. The statue was attested from the 16th century from the Villa d'Este when it was known as a statue of Mars and probably changed identity by Blundell's time. Blundell was very proud of his purchase and the statue was engraved for the Society of Dilettanti's Specimens of Ancient Sculpture.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Francesco d'Este ( Previous owner); Vincenzo Pacetti ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • A Catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Ince Blundell Hall

    Ashmole, Bernard

    Author: Ashmole, Bernard
    Publisher: Clarendon Press
    Date: 1929
    Description: An illustrated catalogue of the ancient sculptures collected by Henry Blundell and formerly at Ince Blundell Hall.

  • An Account of the Statues, Busts, Bass Relieves, Cinerary Urns, and other ancient marbles, and paintings at Ince. Collected by H.B.

    Blundell, Henry

    Author: Blundell, Henry
    Date: 1803

  • Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Michaelis, A

    Author: Michaelis, A
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Date: 1882

  • Ares in Vasenmalerei, Relief und Rundplastik

    Beck, Irmgard

    Author: Beck, Irmgard
    Publisher: Verlag Peter Lang
    Date: 1984

  • Belleza y Virtud : Coleccionismo inglés de art clásico, siglo XVIII

    Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

    Author: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia
    Date: 2019-03
    Description: Exhibition catalogue listing NML's loaned items to the exhibition titled: Beauty and Virtue. English collection of Classic Art. Century XVIII

  • Henry Blundell's Sculpture Collection at Ince Hall

    Vaughan, Gerard

    Author: Vaughan, Gerard
    Publisher: Tate Gallery, Liverpool; National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside
    Date: 1989

  • Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae

    Publisher: Artemis
    Date: 1981

  • Notes on a New Edition of Michaelis: Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Vermeule, C; von Bothmer, D

    Author: Vermeule, C; von Bothmer, D
    Date: 1959-04

  • The Ince Blundell collection of classical sculpture Volume III-The ideal sculpture

    Bartman, Elizabeth

    Author: Bartman, Elizabeth
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Date: 2017
    Description: This book investigates the important antiquities collection formed by Henry Blundell of Ince Blundell Hall, near Liverpool, in the late eighteenth century. Consisting of more than 500 ancient marbles - the UK's largest collection of Roman sculptures after that of the British Museum - the collection was assembled primarily in Italy during Blundell's various 'Grant Tour' visits. As ancient statues were the preeminent souvenir of the Grand Tour, Blundell has strong competition from other collectors, British nobility and European aristocrats, monarchs, and the Pope. His statues represent a typical cross section of sculptures that would have decorated ancient Roman houses, villas, public spaces and even tombs, although their precise origins are largely unknown. Most are likely to have come from Rome and at least one was found at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli.

  • Theseus-Statuen

    Brommer, F

    Author: Brommer, F
    Date: 1982


Previous owners

  • Joseph William Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: By descent
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
  • Vincenzo Pacetti

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Francesco d'Este

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
Have 11 place tagsPage load time: 321 ms