© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Gerhard Marcks, German (Berlin, Germany 1889 - 1981 Burgbrohl, Germany)
Prometheus Bound II
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Gefesselter Prometheus II
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
78.1 x 51.5 x 46 cm (30 3/4 x 20 1/4 x 18 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: on base, behind proper right heel, in artist's hand: artist's monogram
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Rudloff 522
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Museum Purchase, by exchange
© Gerhard-Marcks-Stiftung, Bremen, Germany / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55 , written 2018
Prometheus, the mythical creator of mankind, is portrayed in legend as a hero who rebels against an overwhelming authority: after shaping the first humansfrom clay, he brings them fire, defying the will of the gods. His punishment, meted out by Zeus, is to be bound
to a rock where his liver is eaten by an eagle—a torture repeated for eternity as the immortal’s liver regenerates each night. Prometheus Bound II is the final work in Marcks’s series depicting the figure and the only version made after the war; between 1943 and 1944, the artist made two in plaster, both of which were destroyed in bombings. Here cast in more enduring bronze, the broken hero may be understood as a statement about Marcks’s own fate or the situation of artists in general during the Nazi era. It is also exemplary of the
generalized and often ambiguous depictions of the period that relied on mythological themes and figures.

Publication History

Gerhard Marcks, exh. cat., Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, 1953), p. 16 + 22, cat. no. 37, b/w ill.

Charles L. Kuhn, German Expressionism and Abstract Art, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1957), cat. no. 120, b/w ill.

Brandt Aymar, The Young Male Figure, Crown Publishers Inc. (New York, NY, 1970), p. 217, b/w ill.

Anneliese Harding, German Sculpture in New England Museums, Goethe Institute (Boston, MA, 1972), p. 20, repr. p. 78 as fig. 143

Günter Busch, Gerhard Marcks. Das plastische Werk, Propyläen Verlag, Berlin (Berlin, Germany, 1977), p. 348, no. 522, b/w ill.

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 66, repr. pp. 66-67

Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 88, ill.

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 78

Lynette Roth and Ilka Voermann, Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. 258-260, cat. no. 30.1, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

Works from the 20th Century Collection of the Busch-Reisinger, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/15/1980 - 09/01/1980; Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 09/23/1980 - 10/24/1980

German Sculpture, 1500 - 1960: A New Installation, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 09/05/1984 - 12/31/1984

German Sculpture from the Permanent Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 01/21/1986 - 03/10/1986

Making Myth Modern: Primordial Themes in German 20th-Century Sculpture, Harvard University Art Museums, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 07/14/2007 - 12/30/2007

32Q: 1510 Busch Winter garden, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/27/2015 - 01/12/2016

Private Practice, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/27/2015 - 01/12/2016

Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/09/2018 - 06/03/2018

Subjects and Contexts

The Bauhaus

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu