Inv. n°: MMoCA212MA

The Hercules Farnese

This beautiful bronze, exquisitely cast and with a fine patina, is a remarkable and early example of a Grand Tour sculpture. The waxy appearance of the casting indicates an early date, likely preceding bronzes by artists active in the second part of the 18th century, such as Righetti and Zoffoli who always signed their works, and which present a different finish. Following the classical iconography, Hercules is shown as a heavily muscled and bearded nude man in his prime. Resting after his labours, he is represented leaning against a trunk draped with the skin of the Nemean lion and with his club under his left arm. This bronze is a reduction of a classical prototype, best known in the form of a colossal marble known as the ‘Farnese Hercules’. This antique, one of the most famous ancient sculptures, dates from the 3rd century AD. It came into the collection of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520-1589), the grandson of Pope Paul III, who was a great patron of the arts and assembled one of the biggest collections of ancient sculpture. The statue was displayed for generations in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome. The Farnese statue was moved to Naples in 1787 and is now displayed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. By the turn of the 18th century the aims of the Grand Tour were by now securely established as a social convention, and had become centred around the study of great works of art and sites from Antiquity. Artists produced copies after the Antique, responding with skill and energy to the taste of collectors for faithful replicas of celebrated statues.

h. 37.5 cm

Italian, late 17th or early 18th century

Bronze

Provenance

  • Private collection, Milan, to 2014
  • Sotheby's, London, 28th October 2014
  • Daniel Katz Gallery, acquired from above, London
  • Private collection, New York, 2014-2017
  • Acquired at Daniel Katz Gallery, London, 26th April 2018

Exhibitions

  • Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins (MACM), Mougins, France, from 2012

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