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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Work Type
sculpture, statuette
5th-2nd century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Etruria
Classical period to Hellenistic
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
11.2 cm (4 7/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The statuette has an even green patina overall. The surface has become brittle due to mineralization and has chipped off in some areas. The proper right foot is missing. Some tan burial accretions remain in a few areas. The surface has also been heavily scraped during cleaning, leaving chatter marks and faceting that probably does not reflect the original surface modeling.

The statuette was cast solid by the lost-wax process. The modeling that is present is very crude. The nipples, navel, and eyes are indicated with a circular punch. The stylized rolled hair and fingers were indicated using short chisel or punch strokes.

Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2011)


Recorded Ownership History
Walton Brooks McDaniel, New Jersey (?-1943/46), gift; to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1943/46-2012), transfer; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2012.

Note: Walton Brooks McDaniel gave a portion of his collection to the Department of the Classics in 1943 and the rest in 1946. The Collection is named for his late wife, Alice Corinne McDaniel.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University
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 strides with his left foot forward. The left knee is slightly bent, while the left foot is flat on the ground. The right leg is straight except for a slight bend at the knee. The figure is nude except for a schematic lion skin tapering to a point and draped over the left arm, which is held out at waist level. There is no indication of fingers on the left hand, and the molded thumb is disproportionately large. The right arm is raised, brandishing a club behind his head. Fingers on the right hand are indicated by incised lines, and the thumb is disproportionately large. The club is plain. The anatomy of the figure is very schematic, and stylized musculature is modeled slightly in the pectorals, back, buttocks, navel, and legs. Nipples and navel are indicated by circular incisions. The face is long with a weak chin; the eyes are incised circles, the nose is very prominent, and the mouth is small and drawn back into an archaic smile. The head is uncovered; the hair is partially indicated by modeling and by incision but the majority is left plain.

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.-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.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

  • John Crawford, Sidney Goldstein, George M. A. Hanfmann, John Kroll, Judith Lerner, Miranda Marvin, Charlotte Moore, and Duane Roller, Objects of Ancient Daily Life. A Catalogue of the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection Belonging to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, ed. Jane Waldbaum, Department of the Classics (unpublished manuscript, 1970), M168, p. 203 [J. S. Crawford]
  • Susanne Ebbinghaus, ed., Ancient Bronzes through a Modern Lens: Introductory Essays on the Study of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes, Harvard Art Museum/Yale University Press (Cambridge, MA, 2014), p. 54

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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