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Identification and Creation

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

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
8.2 x 6.1 cm (3 1/4 x 2 3/8 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is green with brown burial accretions. The club that would have been held in the right hand is lost. The surface is corroded and has lost some detail. Small holes in one foot and ankle are casting flaws.

The statuette is solid, and the simplicity of the shapes give it the appearance of having been formed directly in wax as part of a lost-wax process. The incised lines on the chest, back, and hair are soft in shape and appear to have been made in the wax model. The eyes and mouth may have been enhanced by cold working in the metal. The remnants of the club in the right hand give the impression that it was separately fabricated and inserted into the hand.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)

Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: Small tan label "FI 2" on the back of the lion skin.


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; the right leg is straight except for a slight bend at the knee. Both heels are pointed and the feet are flat. The figure is nude except for a schematic triangular lion skin draped over the left arm, which is held out at waist level. There is no indication of fingers; the molded thumb is disproportionately large, and there appears to be something held in the hand (perhaps part of the lion skin), which is a variant of this statue type. The right arm is raised, brandishing a club (now missing) behind his head. The anatomy of the figure is very schematic and stylized, lacking defined musculature. An incised cross on the torso indicates the pectorals. There is an incised line on the back, and the buttocks are modeled. The face is round; the eyelids are circles, the nose is very pointed, and the mouth is small. The head is uncovered; the hair is indicated by a series of ridges.

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), M170, p. 204 [J. S. Crawford]

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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