Adolfo Wildt

Vir temporis acti (or Uomo antico)

The monumental head Vir temporis acti is a part of the large multihued marble bust with arms and legs chopped off and a gilded bronze sword stuck into its base. Donated in 1912 by its owner, the collector Franz Rose who commissioned it himself to the Neue Museum in Königsberg, it was lost during the Second World War and now survives solely in the photos taken by Emilio Sommariva.

The work’s execution date is uncertain. Although references date it to 1913, Wildt explained to certain publications that he had sculpted the block of the head in 1910 and the torso two years later in 1912. The most reliable date should therefore be sometime between the end of 1910 and 1911, when the artist intentionally exasperated the expressive values of physiognomic features. The title Uomo antico ("ancient man") underlines the allegorical value of the slave or the warrior in ancient times in the process of becoming painfully aware of his end.

There are three marble versions of the head alone: one was donated in 1920 to the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan by Attilio Vercelli; one is part of the Resnick Collection (USA), and one is currently in the Carraro Foundation Collection. Four versions were also done in bronze, one in bronze patina, and one in plaster.


Adolfo Wildt 1868-1931, Arnoldo Mondadori Arte, Milan 1989, exhibition catalogue (Venice , Ca’ Pesaro, December 8, 1989 – March 4, 1990), pages 166- 167; Elena Pontiggia (editor), Adolfo Wildt e i suoi allievi: Fontana, Melotti, Broggini e gli altri, Skira, Milan 2000, exhibition catalogue (Brescia, Palazzo Martinengo, January 23 – April 25, 2000), page 48; Paola Mola (editor), Wildt. L’anima e le forme, Silvana Editrice, Cinisello Balsamo 2012, exhibition catalogue (Forlì, Musei San Domenico, January 28 - June 7, 2012), pages 152-153 (with previous references); Adolfo Wildt. Le dernier symboliste, Skira, Paris 2015, exhibition catalogue (Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie, April 15 – July 13, 2015, Milan, Galleria d’arte moderna, October 30, 2015 – January 30, 2016), fact sheet by Omar Cucciniello, pages 104-107 (with previous references).

Adolfo Wildt
c. 1911
56.5×40×39 cm