Another example of the present bronze composition, in the Frick Collection, New York, was the subject of an article by Claudia Kryza-Gersch in 2001 (op. cit.). In that article she discussed the importance of making the distinction between bronzes, particularly those produced in Venice, which could reasonably be associated with their creator, and those that were subsequently cast by artisan founders. The Frick bronze had long been attributed to the Venetian sculptor Tiziano Aspetti, with Leo Planiscig citing its close stylistic relation to two documented reliefs of the Martyrdom of St Daniel in the cathedral of Padua (Planiscig, loc. cit.). Kryza-Gersch argued that there were important distinctions in quality, but also of composition, between the Frick bronze of Mars and other known examples which suggested that the former was the original creation by Aspetti, and other examples, such as one offered for sale from the collection of Cyril Humphris (paired with a Venus, Sotheby’s New York, 10 January 1995, lot 25) were high quality creations of another hand.
Since the time of the article, another example of the Mars has appeared on the art market, from the collection of Professor Michael Jaffe (Sotheby’s London, 3 December 2014, lot 72). Although cast on a different base from the Frick bronze, it was argued that it displayed the same high quality, vigorous surface and overall composition, with the cuirass under the proper left foot slightly raised, and the left leg more bent and outward turning, among other subtle differences. To these two bronzes we must now compare a third - the present bronze. Unpublished, and with a traditional provenance from the princes of Hanover, the bronze offered here also has the raised cuirass and positioning of the left leg which Kryza-Gersch cites as one of the crucial differences between bronzes that should be associated with Aspetti, and those cast by less talented founders. Interestingly, the present bronze was cast without an elaborate base. However it would seem clear from the Frick and Jaffe bronzes – which are on different bases – that a mould of the figure and cuirass alone existed in order to alter the base on which it stood. The present bronze also displays many of the same fine details of finish as the other two examples, such as the treatment of the Medusa mask on the shield, and the incised eyes of the god of war, which are directly comparable to the Frick bronze but unlike the Jaffe example, the eyes of which are left unindicated.