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Figure group - Hercules and Antaeus
  • Hercules and Antaeus
    Antico Pier Jacopo di Antonio Alari-Bonacolsi
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Hercules and Antaeus

  • Object:

    Figure group

  • Place of origin:

    Mantua (made)

  • Date:

    1500-1510 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Antico Pier Jacopo di Antonio Alari-Bonacolsi (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze, with silver gilding in the eyes

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Dr W. L. Hildburgh, FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery, case SS1 []

Antico was court sculptor to the Gonzaga family, rulers of Mantua. He trained as a goldsmith and developed a sophisticated method of reproducing bronzes. As his name suggests, Antico was inspired by works from antiquity. He based this group on a classical marble of Hercules and Antaeus now in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence.

Physical description

Hercules and Antaeus, bronze figure group. The eyes of both figures are inlaid with silver. The group is fixed to an original oval bronze base without mouldings. The bearded figure of Hercules holds the younger Antaeus aloft.

Place of Origin

Mantua (made)


1500-1510 (made)


Antico Pier Jacopo di Antonio Alari-Bonacolsi (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Bronze, with silver gilding in the eyes


Height: 40.8 cm, Height: 39.1 cm figure only, Weight: 6.480 kg, Width: 22 cm, Depth: 14.1 cm

Object history note

Given by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F. S. A., 1956.

Historical significance: The model derives from the classical marble of Hercules and Antaeus which is today in the courtyard of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence presented to Cosimo I by Pius IV in 1560. Before this it had been in Rome in the Belvedere, where it was installed by Julius II. Although its date of discovery is not known before 1474 to Mantegna, who adapted it for a scene on the vault of the Caniera degli Sposi, completed in that year.

Descriptive line

Group, bronze, Hercules and Antaeus, by Antico, Italy (Mantua), 1500-1510

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

Bober, P. P. and Rubinstein, R. O. Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture, a Handbook of Sources. Oxford, 1986, p. 173
Ettlinger, Leopold, D. Antonio and Piero Pollaiuolo. Oxford, 1978, p. 147 (cat.no. 13), fig. 20
Howarth, D. 'Charles I, Sculpture and Sculptor's'. In: A. MacGregor (ed.), The Late King's Goods, Oxford University Press, London & Oxford, no. 3, p. 98, fig 48
Trusted, Marjorie, ed. The Making of Sculpture. The Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: 2007, p. 55, pl. 89, 90
Blume, Dieter, 'Anticos Antike', in: Städel-Jahrbuch, II, 1987, pp. 179-204, esp. pp.191-193
Luciano, Eleanora (ed.) in collaboration with Denise Allen and Claudia Kryza-Gersch, Antico. The Golden Age of Renaissance Bronzes, (exh. cat. National Gallery of Art Washington 6 November 2011-8 April 2012; The Frick Collection, New York, 1 May-29 July 2012) London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2011, inc. pl.43
Ferino-Pagden, Sylvia, Isabella D'Este: Fürstin und Mäzenatin der Renaissance, Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, 1994.
Chambers, David and Martineau, Jane (eds.), Splendours of the Gonzaga : Catalogue, London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1981


Bronze; Silver




Sculpture; Myths & Legends


Sculpture Collection

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