May 30, 2006

The Labors of Hercules: Hercules Dragging Cerberus from the Underworld

The Labors of Hercules: Hercules Dragging Cerberus from the Underworld


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Hans Sebald Beham

(German, 1500-1550)


Gift of Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. 1923.120.5

Catalogue raisonné: Pauli 104



Beham was one of several German printmakers referred to today as the “Little Masters.” They established their artistic prowess by engraving remarkably small prints, appealing to collectors fascinated with miniature objects and curiosities. Here, Beham has packed 12 larger-than-life stories of the mighty Hercules into tiny prints. The series includes three of the 12 labors Hercules performed as penance for slaying his children in a fit of madness: Strangling the Nemean Lion, Killing the Lernean Hydra, and Dragging Cerberus from the Underworld. The other scenes depict tales from his life and the events preceding his death. The son of Jupiter and the mortal Alcmena, Hercules was both man and god. His saga of moral and physical trials made him one of the most popular classical heroes in Renaissance art.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

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