Boxwood sculpture of the Farnese Hercules by Michel Péru, dated 1635

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Michel Péru
Signed and dated 1635
26 cm

Sale Bruun Rasmussen, 13 May 1993, lot 580
Danny Katz Gallery ltd. London
Private collection (?)
Herwig Simons Fine Arts Antwerpen 2013
Kunstzalen A. Vecht Amsterdam 2015
Private collection Goudsmit Amsterdam

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This boxwood model of Hercules closely follows its Roman example, in stance and rendering. Hercules is modelled after the well-known Farnese Hercules, an ancient statue of Hercules. The muscular Hercules is leaning on his club, which he used to defeat the Nemean lion, the first of the twelve labours that he had to complete. The skin of the beast is draped on his club. The maker of the sculpture, Michel Péru (1615 - 1670), was a French sculptor from Avignon. He is known for his altar piece for the Chapelle des Penitets Noirs in Avignon.

The Farnese Hercules is a copy or version of a much older Greek original bronze by Lysippos or circle made in the fourth century BC. The Roman copy was made for the Baths of Caracala in Rome. The statue was rediscovered in 1546, and is now in the Archeological Museum in Napels. The Hercules is one of the most famous sculptures of antiquity and has defined the image of the mythic hero in the European imagination. Hercules was the son of Zeus and the mortal Alcemene and, as the greatest of heroes, was well-known for his strength.


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