Nov 22, 2022

The Farnesian Hercules

Three Famous Antique Roman Statues

The Farnesian Hercules


Hendrick Goltzius

(Dutch, 1558–1617)


Platemark: 40.4 x 29.4 cm (15 7/8 x 11 9/16 in.); Sheet: 42.5 x 30.2 cm (16 3/4 x 11 7/8 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2022.137


Did you know?

The 3rd-century Farnese Hercules was unearthed in 1546 in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and was on display in the courtyard of the Farnese Palace by the time Hendrick Goltzius visited the city.


Hendrick Goltzius was one of many late Renaissance artists who felt compelled to travel to Italy as part of his artistic training. He went with one purpose—to study antique sculpture. Goltzius made drawings on-site and then made engravings after his designs once he returned to Haarlem in 1591. He portrayed the Farnese Hercules from a low viewpoint to capture the awesome experience of first encountering the famous monument. Goltzius showed the sculpture from behind and in shadow, emphasizing its glowing highlights. The print includes two observers, who were assumed by contemporary Dutch commentators to be a self-portrait of Goltzius with his stepson, Jacob Matham, who was also an engraver.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

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