Exhibitions/ Art Object

Bronze sleeping Herakles

last quarter 15th century
Italian, Florence
Overall (confirmed): 5 3/8 × 8 1/2 × 5 3/8 in. (13.7 × 21.6 × 13.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1968
Accession Number:
Not on view
Renaissance and later sculptors, possibly borrowing from the imagery of Cupid, fashioned lyrical sculptures of Herakles asleep, as if dreaming. The conquest of the Nemean lion, upon whose skin he reposes, was the first of the hero's famous labors. The chamfered corners suggest that the statuette was fitted into a base. It is best seen looking down upon it, when the planes arrange themselves most attractively, the lion skin fanning out behind the figure. The building up of a figural composition in planes, together with a degree of obsessiveness in the chasing of the interior of the cast, were hallmarks of Florentine practice.
E.G. Raphael , London (until 1945; sale, Sotheby's, London, November 9, 1945, no. 86); Ferdinando Adda , Cannes (until 1965; sale, Palais Galliera, Paris, November 30– December 1, 1965, no. 233); Irwin Untermyer (until 1968; to MMA)
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