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Hercules and the Nemean Lion
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Hercules and the Nemean Lion

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description The superhuman feats of Hercules personified the ideal of fortitude in the service of virtue. Here, he fights the lion that had been terrorizing the people of Nemea. Herculean subjects were attractive to collectors, who displayed statuettes like this one in their studies as reflections of their own "heroic" strength and "unparalleled" accomplishments. Members of the Habsburg dynasty were particularly fond of identifying with him. As with "Samson Wrestling with the Lion" (Walters 71.433), the sculptor faced the challenge of portraying violent combat in a sensuous material. More often, hard materials, such as bronze, were chosen to communicate athleticism. To overcome the soft, silky appearance of ivory, Hercules's physical power is conveyed through exaggerated, knotted muscles. The anguished expression and ropey hair recall the style of the Master of the Furies, for example, "Tormented Figure" (Walters 71.435).
Date Description Narrative
6/03/1986Examinationexamined for condition
6/03/1986Treatmentcleaned; repaired; loss compensation
  • World of Wonder. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971-1972.
  • Ivory: The Sumptuous Art. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1983-1984.
Provenance Josephus Jitta, Amsterdam [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; W. S. L. Schuster, London [date and mode of acquisition unkonwn]; Sale, Christie's, London, Nov. 24, 1911, lot 73; George Robinson Harding, London [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1912, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1912

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1640-1660 (Baroque)
(Ivory & Bone)
Accession Number
H: 10 9/16 in. (26.9 cm)
  • Austria (Place of Origin)
  • Germany (Place of Origin)


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