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Salt Cellar with the Life of Hercules
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Salt Cellar with the Life of Hercules

Description Provenance Credit
Description Salt cellars are vessels for serving salt, an expensive spice during this period, as part of a formal dinner setting. In the depression for the salt is an idealized image of Deianira, Hercules's wife, with the inscription reading, "I am the beautiful Deianira." A parallel image of Hercules is on the bottom. On the sides are painted scenes from his life. Visible here are representations of Hercules strangling the Nemean lion, struggling with Achelous (a suitor for Deianira) in the shape of a bull, and killing a creature that while identified as Cerberus, the three-headed dog from Hades, looks like the Lernean hydra that was described as having many heads, each on a long neck.
Provenance Didier-Petit Collection Sale (?), Paris, March 15, 1843, and following days, lot 122 [if this salt is indeed the piece in this sale it had a companion piece, lot 121, with the heads of Paris and Tibea in the cavities (ie., Pyramus and Thisbe)]; Seligmann Bros., 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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1535 or later (Renaissance)
painted enamel on copper
Accession Number
H: 3 1/8 x Diam: 4 in. (8 x 10.1 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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