Study based on Giambologna’s sculpture work. Phillip Carrero.
The small bronze portrays Hercules, recognisable by the lion’s pelt tied around his waist, as he raisesAntaeus from the ground and crushes him.
The subject refers to one of the innumerable exploits tackled by the hero, as narrated in the myths. While he was travelling through Libya in quest of the golden apples, Hercules had to confront the giant Antaeus, son of Neptune (god of the sea) and Gaia (goddess of the earth), who obliged all travellers to fight with him, after which he invariably killed them. In fact Antaeus was invulnerable as long as his feet were on the earth, and hence was in contact with his mother. Consequently Hercules lifted him off the ground, and then suffocated him by crushing him against his own body.
The bronze is set upon a triangular base, which is balanced in turn on three tortoises.