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Identification and Creation

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

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
7.5 x 3 x 0.5 cm (2 15/16 x 1 3/16 x 3/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 76.18; Sn, 4.89; Pb, 17.91; Zn, 0.016; Fe, 0.04; Ni, 0.08; Ag, 0.1; Sb, 0.13; As, 0.6; Bi, 0.035; Co, 0.03; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is black with an underlying layer of green and brown. The statuette is intact. A thick layer of black corrosion products has been lost in some locations, exposing a rough green layer well below the original surface

Herakles is a solid cast and was probably modeled directly in the wax. The surface modeling is crude and does not appear to have been refined in the metal by any cold work. There is no evidence of tangs or other means of mounting the object at the feet.

Henry Lie (submitted 2001)


Recorded Ownership History
Miss Elizabeth Gaskell Norton, Boston, MA and Miss Margaret Norton, Cambridge, MA (by 1920), gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1920.

Note: The Misses Norton were daughters of Charles Elliot Norton (1827-1908).

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of the Misses Norton
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 his legs slightly spread; his left leg is forward, with the knee bent and foot turned outward. He extends his left arm, over which is draped a stylized, triangular version of his lion skin. In his raised right arm, he brandishes the club behind his head; the club has a rough indication of tree-like texture. The figure has defined musculature. The face has a beak-like nose; mouth and eyes are barely indicated. The rough shape of the hair on his uncovered head is clear, but there is no indication of individual locks. The back is flat and plain with no detailing.

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.

Jane A. Scott and Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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