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Hercules

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (probably, engraved)

  • Date:

    1540-1560 (engraved)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thiry, Léonard (artist)
    Boyvin, René (engraver)
    Milan, Pierre (Engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving on paper

  • Museum number:

    22790:4

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case EO, shelf 9

This engraving belongs to a set of twenty prints attributed to René Boyvin and his workshop. But it has been suggested that they could perhaps be by Pierre Milan, since it is quite unusual for Boyvin not to sign his work. Depictions of the Greek and Roman divinities were quite common in the 16th century, as were grotesques. But to represent the Roman gods surrounded by grotesques, and with such details, makes this set a very original one.

The original drawings were made by Léonard Thiry in the middle of the sixteenth century, as the inscription on the first plate ‘Leonardus Theodoricus inventor’ demonstrates. They were once attributed to Rosso Fiorentino and his influence is quite strong in this set. Indeed Rosso himself drew a series of Gods in Niches engraved by Caraglio. In both series, gods and goddesses are set up in traditional pairs, such as Pluto and Proserpina, Ariadne and Bacchus; furthermore Thiry’s compositions are often extremely reminiscent of Rosso’s. For example, Saturn is shown in the same posture, devouring one of his children, in both sets.

The four prints showing Neptune, Thetis, Hercules and Hebe are very rare, and unlike the others, they are unnumbered.

Physical description

Engraving from a set of twenty prints depicting grotesque panels containing pagan divinities. Hercules (plate 18). In an oval frame, Hercules, wearing a lion skin and holding a club, stands on the head of a terminal figure. On the sides of which, one cartouche showing Hercules with the Nemean Lion, and another one with Hercules and the Cretan Bull. Attributed to René Boyvin or Pierre Milan, after Léonard Thiry; mid 16th century. Lettered with a Latin inscription. Unnumbered. Lettered with a Latin inscription: 'Lernarum domitor, cessit dominante veneno,'.

Place of Origin

Paris (probably, engraved)

Date

1540-1560 (engraved)

Artist/maker

Thiry, Léonard (artist)
Boyvin, René (engraver)
Milan, Pierre (Engraver)

Materials and Techniques

Engraving on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Lettered in the lower margin of the plate:

'Lernarum domitor, cessit dominante veneno,'
Lettered with a Latin inscription.

Dimensions

Height: 17.3 cm Cut to, Width: 10.8 cm Cut to

Historical context note

This engraving belongs to a set of twenty prints attributed to René Boyvin and his workshop. But Henri Zerner (L’Ecole de Fontainebleau, 1972, p. 332, no.434) suggested that they could perhaps be by Pierre Milan, since it is quite unusual for Boyvin not to sign his work. Depictions of the Greek and Roman divinities were quite common in the 16th century, as were grotesques. But to represent the Roman gods surrounded by grotesques, and with such details, makes this set a very original one.

The original drawings were made by Léonard Thiry in the middle of the sixteenth century, as the inscription on the first plate ‘Leonardus Theodoricus inventor’ demonstrates. An old attribution to Rosso exists due to the fact that the name of Léonard Thiry was scratched and replaced with the inscription ‘maitre Rous’ by a fraudulent publisher. Nevertheless, Rosso’s influence is quite strong in this set. Indeed Rosso himself drew a series of Gods in Niches engraved by Caraglio (Bartsch illustrated, 28, pp. 116-165). In both series, gods and goddesses are set up in traditional pairs, such as Pluto and Proserpina, Ariadne and Bacchus; furthermore Thiry’s compositions are often extremely reminiscent of Rosso’s. For example, Saturn is shown in the same posture, devouring one of his children, in both sets.

The four prints showing Neptune, Thetis, Hercules and Hebe are very rare, and unlike the others, they are unnumbered.

Descriptive line

René Boyvin or Pierre Milan, after Léonard Thiry. Plate from a suite of 20 grotesque panels with pagan gods. France, 1540-1560.

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

Zerner, Henri. L'Ecole de Fontainebleau, gravures. 1972. p. 332, no.434.
Strauss, Walter L., ed. The Illustrated Bartsch, 28, Commentary: Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century. New York: Abaris Books, 1995. pp. 116-165.

Production Note

Attributed to René Boyvin. But the set has also been attributed to Pierre Milan.

Materials

Ink; Paper

Techniques

Engraving

Subjects depicted

Club; Lion; Bull; Grotesques; Lion skin; Mythology; Cartouche; Terminal figure

Categories

Prints; Ornament prints

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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