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Description This marble statuette depicts a heavy-set Herakles in a rare moment of quiet. His shoulders are covered with a drooping lion skin that offers a visual contrast to Herakles' fully muscled body. He may have originally held a club. Herakles is bearded, his curly hair and beard are reminiscent of the lion's mane. This representation of Herakles is known from several examples, including a bronze version in the Walters Art Museum (54.764). 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.
Date Description Narrative
1/01/1992Technical Reportx-ray diffraction; other
1/24/2001Treatmentcleaned; loss compensation; mounted
  • The Arts of Man. Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas. 1962.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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Roman copy: 1st century BCE-1st century CE; Greek original: 3rd century BCE (Roman Imperial)
Accession Number
18 1/2 x 9 13/16 x 5 7/8 in. (47 x 25 x 15 cm)


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