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Aged Herakles
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Aged Herakles


Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description This bronze statuette depicts a heavy-set Herakles in a rare moment of quiet. His shoulders are covered with a lion skin that gathers in a generous fold behind his neck. The drooping lion skin is visual contrast to Herakles' fully muscled body. The rich curls of the lion's mane drape over the hero's left arm, but the head of the animal is now missing. Herakles' right arm is hidden beneath the skin. Similar examples of this statue-type indicate that his left hand held a club against the left shoulder. Herakles is heavily bearded, his facial hair rendered in thick curls reminiscent of the lion's mane. A gilded band encircles his head. The eyes are silver and it appears that another material would have been used for the pupils. This representation of Herakles is known from several examples, including a marble version in the Walters Art Museum (23.74). Both of the Walters' pieces are likely modeled on a famous Hellenistic statue of the hero as a wayfarer. Euripides' play "Alkestis" depicts just such a Herakles, who appears as a traveler and unannounced guest at the home of Admetos, whose wife, Alkestis, has just died. In the drama, the hero is initially unaware of the tragedy unfolding around him. Oblivious to his host's suffering, he advocates drinking wine to ease life's difficulties, revealing a less noble side of the hero. Once he finally recognizes the plight of the family, he reverts to his heroic self and succeeds in bringing Alkestis back to life. Unlike so many depictions of Herakles, this statuette captures the hero in a moment of rest, rather than at the height of a challenge. The bulk of his body, his mature appearance, and his relaxed pose suggest that this is the hero later in life, well after the period of his famed labors.
Conservation
Date Description Narrative
12/31/1969Examinationcondition
3/21/2001Treatmentrepaired; loss compensation
2/02/2011Examinationcondition
Exhibitions
  • Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; San Diego Museum Of Art, San Diego; Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), New York. 2009-2011.
Provenance Dirkan Kelekian, New York and Paris [date and mode of acquisition unknown] (?); Henry Walters, Baltimore, [date of acquisition unknown] by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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Creators
Period
Roman copy: 1st century BC-AD 1st century; Greek original: 3rd century BC (Hellenistic)
Medium
cast bronze, with silver and gilding
(Metal)
Accession Number
54.764
Measurements
H: 16 15/16 x W: 9 3/8 x D: 5 1/2 in. (43 x 23.8 x 14 cm)
Geography
  • Caesarea Cappadociae (present-day Kayseri, Turkey) (?) (Place of Discovery)

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