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Plaque - Hercules and the Dead Antaeus

Hercules and the Dead Antaeus

  • Object:

    Plaque

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Moderno (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze cast in relief

  • Museum number:

    522-1903

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The plaque depicts Hercules, clad in a lion's skin. He stands resting upon his club and contemplating the dead body of Antaeus at his feet. To the right is a cavern and to the left part of a building, the entablature of which bears the artist's signature.

Moderno is the pseudonym of a goldsmith and medallist active in North Italy and later in Rome. He signed certain pieces of his work with OPUS MODERNI (opus is the Latin term for 'work' - which then means 'work of the modern'). The modern here is referring to the Ancient World, in contrary to the Naturalism of the Gothic. He was active in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. His earliest works may date around 1485-1490, and his earliest dated work is 1490. There are many different suggestions in literature to whom OPUS MODERNI may refer, and there has never been a clear answer to it.

Hercules in Greek mythology (Heracles) was the son of Zeus and Alcmene, and great-grandson of Perseus. He was the most important Greek hero and represents the characteristics of masculinity, strength, courage and sexual prowess.

Antaeus, a giant and the son of Poseidon and Gaia, was very strong, unbeatable strong unless he remained in contact with the ground. Heracles found out about the secret, lifted him up and defeated and killed him.

Physical description

Hercules, clad in a lion's skin, stands resting upon his club and contemplating the dead body of Antaeus at his feet; to right, a cavern; to left, part of a building, the entablature of which bears the artist's signature.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)

Date

early 16th century (made)

Artist/maker

Moderno (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Bronze cast in relief

Marks and inscriptions

O MODERNI
signature on the frieze

Dimensions

Length: 6.99 cm, Width: 5.4 cm

Object history note

Acquired in London, £8 18s. 6d.

Descriptive line

Plaque, bronze, Hercules and Antaeus, by Moderno, Italy, beginning of 16th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Years 1903 - 1904. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, During the Year 1903, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition with Appendix and Indices. London: Printed for His Majesty's Stationery Office, by Wyman and Sons, Limited, 1907, p. 88
Maclagan, Eric. Catalogue of Italian Plaquettes . London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1924, p. 36

Materials

Bronze

Techniques

Casting; Relief

Subjects depicted

Frieze; Building; Lion's skin; Arch; Cave; Cavern; Landscape

Categories

Plaques & Plaquettes; Sculpture; Metalwork; Myths & Legends; Death

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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