The present depiction of Hercules holding the golden apples of the Hesperides in his left hand and the skin of the Nemean lion draped over the same arm, while leaning on his club with the other arm, is a common representation of the hero in a relaxed contrapposto stance. Such depictions can be found in marble examples in the MFA Boston and the Museo del Prado Madrid. This pose is derived from a Greek original created by Myron of Eleutherae around 450 B.C., which was placed in the Heraion on Samos. Although none of Myron's original bronzes survive, Pliny describes them as being more harmonious in their proportions and more realistic in their depictions than those of other famous Greek sculptors.
Bronze sculptures such as the present example offer valuable insights into the ancient world, as figured bronze objects were commonplace in Mediterranean cultures of that time. Such bronze statuettes were frequently reproduced from Greek originals and used as decorative pieces or conversation starters in the rooms of educated Romans. They could also serve as dedicatory offerings or cult statues.
In Pompeii, for example, many statuettes were found in niches in private houses and street shrines and were often associated with household or other divinities. Some marble and bronze figures were also linked to specific parts of the dwelling-house, particularly fountains. While some bronze statuettes were undoubtedly copies of famous originals, others were likely original creations, resulting in variations between statuettes of a similar type.
Lyon & Turnbull offers four auctions of Antiquities annually; with sculpture from ancient Greece and Rome placed into biannual dedicated sections of our Five Centuries sales and Fine Antiquities offered in our biannual Form Through Time editorial sales. This ensures that the broad range of Antiquities offered at Lyon and Turnbull each reach the correct market.