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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Other Titles
Former Title: Statuette of Herakles
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
3rd century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Etruria
Hellenistic period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
11.1 x 6.5 cm (4 3/8 x 2 9/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: iron
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is green with areas of brown and red. The right forearm and hand are broken off and had been glued back in place; the left hand is missing. Some parts of the surface are well preserved, but most of the surface has lost detail due to corrosion. The mostly vertical scratch marks are the result of cleaning the statuette with a coarse metal brush. The mounting pin in the right foot is modern. Corrosion products are at least 1-mm thick in many areas.

The object is a solid cast, and the simplicity of the shapes gives the appearance of having been formed directly in wax as part of a lost-wax process. The hair and face details were made or enhanced using punch tools in the metal. File marks in some areas are original finish marks in the metal.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)


Recorded Ownership History
From the collection of Paul Haldeman.

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 spread, left foot forward and right hip jutting out. His right arm was upraised, holding a club behind his head; the arm has been broken off. His left arm, missing its hand, is held out from the shoulder with a stylized lion skin draped over it. Fingers and toes are only slightly indicated. The musculature of the body is more modeled and naturalistic than other Herakles statuettes in Harvard’s collection, such as 1920.44.100, 2002.60.40, and 2012.1.9. Nipples and navel are indicated by small circular punches of the same size. Herakles’ face is very angular and stylized, with triangular eyes, lacking molded lids, and pupils incised by dots. His nose is pointed, and there are simple molded lines for lips. The head is uncovered—a diadem encircles the head. Wavy hair is indicated by lines; it is particularly long in the back and around the face. A small section of hair or perhaps a fillet sticks out over the brow.

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

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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