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Hercules Killing the Nemean Lion

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Hercules Killing the Nemean Lion

Artist: Heinrich Aldegrever (German, 1502 - 1561)

Date: 1550
Medium: Engraving on paper
Overall: 4 3/16 x 2 5/8in. (10.6 x 6.7cm)
Signed: Top left (in plate): '1550 / A/G'
Inscribed: Bottom: 'Belua uasta Leo Nemeae sub rupe necatur Post reliqui Alcide succubnere neci'
Credit Line: Gift of Edward W. Root
Object number: 53.1
Label Text
Aldegrever is one of a group of German Renaissance artists known as the "Little Masters." He produced nearly 300 engravings over the course of his career, nearly all of them small in size. Many of his engravings are Biblical and mythological scenes that reflect the influence of Albrecht Dürer, whose monogram he imitated. The subject of this work is one of a series Aldegrever made depicting the mythological figure of Hercules engaged in his legendary twelve labors as penance for slaying his children in a fit of madness. The Nemean lion that terrorized the citizens of Nemea was invulnerable to Hercules' weapons so he strangled it to death. In the history of art most images of this scene show Hercules astride the lion's body forcing its jaws apart. The smaller figure in the background depicts a later moment in the same story when the slain lion's hide is being removed by Hercules for use as a cloak.

February 2005
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