late 1500s-early 1600s
Overall: 47.5 x 18 x 18 cm (18 11/16 x 7 1/16 x 7 1/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1973.167
Hercules slayed the Lernean Hydra as the second of the ancient hero’s twelve labors. When one of the nine snake-like heads was destroyed, two grew back. Hercules cauterized each stump, allowing him eventually to kill the monster. The object he holds may have been a club, sword, sickle, or torch. The sinuous, scaly Hydra and the defined musculature presented challenging opportunities for sculptors working in bronze. The raw, tumultuous energy and twisting form-associated with artists of the late 1500s-contrasts to Jacopo Sansovino’s earlier Virgin and Child (1951.316).
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