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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
3rd-2nd century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Etruria
Hellenistic period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
11.8 x 6.4 cm (4 11/16 x 2 1/2 in.)
base: 6.3 x 7.3 x 6 cm (2 1/2 x 2 7/8 x 2 3/8 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is green and has a film of brown burial accretions. The surface is extremely well preserved. The fingers of the left hand and the implement they once grasped are missing. Dents on the right knee and lower leg are damage, perhaps from excavation. The hole in the top of the right foot is a casting flaw.

The statuette is solid and was probably cast using a lost-wax process. The wax model may have been made using a mold, but there is no evidence of this, and it may also have been made working directly in the wax. The hair has some softer, more fluid modeling and was probably made directly in the wax. The incised lines, with facets from hammer blows, in the lion skin are very crisp and were made in the metal. Details in the face also appear to have been enhanced in the metal. The club was separately cast and inserted into the right fist.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)


Recorded Ownership History
Paul J. Haldeman, Brookline, MA and Jackson, MS, (by 2002), gift; to the Harvard University Art Museums.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Paul J. Haldeman
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
Herakles stands with feet slightly spread, left foot forward. The stance does not indicate true movement. His right arm is upraised, holding a knobbed club behind his head. His left arm is held out from the shoulder and draped with a stylized lion skin with a curvilinear border; this lion skin, with paws, mane, and face indicated, is much more detailed than the lion skins on other Herakles statuettes in Harvard’s collection, such as 1920.44.100, 2002.60.40, and 2012.1.9. The molded musculature of this statuette is quite naturalistic in comparison with the other examples. The facial features are small and proportionate, with a thin nose, brow indicated, ears and eyelids molded, and a dimple in the chin. There is a diadem around the uncovered head. The hair is stylized and depicted in straight rows.

Statuettes showing Herakles in an attacking stance like this are very common in the ancient world (1). The god may have had a connection with cultivation in early Italy (2).


1. See A. Leibundgut, Die römischen Bronzen der Schweiz 3: Westchweiz, Bern, und Wallis (Mainz, 1980) 181-82, no. 278; A.-M. Adam, Bronzes étrusques et italiques (Paris, 1984) 180-92, nos. 271-95; and A. Naso, I bronzi etruschi e italici del Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Kataloge vor- und frühgeschichtlicher Altertümer 33 (Mainz, 2003) 37-43, nos. 48-61, 63-64, and 66-67, pls. 21-24.

2. S. J. Schwarz, “Herakles/Hercle,” Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae 5.1: 196-253, esp. 197; F. van Wonterghem, “Le culte d’Hercule chez les Paeligni documents anciens et nouveaux,” L’Antiquité classique 42.1 (1973): 36-48; F. Jurgeit, Die etruskischen und italischen Bronzen sowie Gegenstände aus Eisen, Blei, und Leder im Badischen Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, Terra Italia 5 (Pisa, 1999) 56-69, nos. 61-89, pls. 21-28.

Jane A. Scott and Lisa M. Anderson

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 2540 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/18/2018 - 11/15/2018
  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/23/2019 - 05/13/2019

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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