lot 366

A Flemish bronze figure of Mars the Roman God of War, wearing a plumed helmet and with a sash over his left shoulder, he holds a spear in his right hand, on a later wood and bronze stepped plinth, 17th century, 42.4cm high (overall). Provenance: Purchased from Chiswick Auctions, 24th May 2017, lot 38 for £5,000. This bronze of the Roman god Mars is after a French monumental statue commissioned by King François I of France from Benvenuto Cellini, to crown a large square fountain in the courtyard of Fontainebleau. For this colossus Cellini says that he produced a model about 60cm high. The present smaller statuette (known in various casts with minor variations), of which Hildburgh owned an example (now in the V&A, A4-1944), differs from the larger Mars most obviously in the position of the helmet, here firmly on the head and there under the right foot. Nevertheless there does seem to be a vague connection and it is usually assumed that the statuettes reflect a wax model left behind in Cellini's studio when he fled from France, perhaps for the Mars in the series of life-size silver statues bearing candlesticks in a raised hand, that he produced for the gallery of François I inside the Château of Fontainebleau, whose actual appearance is unknown. See C. Avery 'Cellini's silver statues of the Gods for Fontainebleau' in Studies in the Decorative Arts, The Bard Graduate Centre for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, New York, XIV, no. 1, Fall-Winter 2006-2007, pp.2-18.