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Roundel - Hercules and the Nemean Lion
  • Hercules and the Nemean Lion
    Antico Pier Jacopo di Antonio Alari-Bonacolsi
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Hercules and the Nemean Lion

  • Object:

    Roundel

  • Place of origin:

    Mantua (made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Antico Pier Jacopo di Antonio Alari-Bonacolsi (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Relief in bronze

  • Museum number:

    A.1-1959

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 117, case 4

This relief in bronze of Hercules and the Nemean Lion is made by Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacolso, called Antico, in the late 15th or early 16th century. It has though recently been suggested that is might be a fake (together with A.2-1959), executed by Salomon Weininger.
The relief corresponds with a relief in the Museo Nazionale, Florence, from which it differs in the absence of gilding on the cloak, tree and other areas and in the chasing of the tree trunk and the interior of the lion's mouth.
The legend of Hercules and the Nemean Lion reflects Hercules’ first labour set to him by Eurystheus, where he had to bring the skin of an unvulnerable lion, which terrorised the hills around the city of Nemea.

Physical description

The nude figure of Hercules is turned to the right, and is shown astride the lion on a shallow platform like that in 149-1882. His cloak, which is fastened at the neck, blows out behind him, and he forces open the upturned jaws of the lion with both hands. A quiver and bow are suspended from a tree on the right.

Place of Origin

Mantua (made)

Date

late 15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Antico Pier Jacopo di Antonio Alari-Bonacolsi (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Relief in bronze

Dimensions

Diameter: 32.1 cm

Object history note

Purchased in Paris (Vicomtesse d'Harcourt, with A2-1959, for £2126 6s. 9d.), with the help of contributions from the Murray, Webb and Bryan Bequests. Previously in the Piot collection.

Historical significance: The relief corresponds with a relief in the Museo Nazionale, Florence, from which it differs in the absence of gilding on the cloak, tree and other areas and in the chasing of the tree trunk and the interior of the lion's mouth.

Descriptive line

Roundel, bronze, Hercules and the Nemean Lion, Italian, perhaps late 15th or early 16th century or a perhaps a modern fake by Salomon Weininger

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

Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text. Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, p. 323, cat. no. 356
Raggio, Olga. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albertt Museum. Art Bulletin. Vol. L, 1968, p. 101
Allison, Ann Hersey. The Bronzes of Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi called Antico, Vienna, 1994, pp. 45, 65-6, 74, 99-102, ill. p. 101

Production Note

or early 16th century or modern copy (fake): Manfred Leithe-Jasper suggests this and A.2-1959 are fakes by Salomon Weininger, known to have made copies after bronzes in the Este Collection, Vienna.

Materials

Bronze

Techniques

Relief

Subjects depicted

Lion

Categories

Myths & Legends; Sculpture; Reliefs

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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