head and torso of bearded man, with curly hair, holding a thin club over his PR shoulder; PL hand on hip; bare-chested, with lion skin over his PR shoulder

Hercules, 1641-1642

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The lion skin around Hercules’ shoulder and waist is a tour de force, drawn with long, seemingly formless pen strokes that abstract and utterly enervate the once fierce beast. By contrast, the hero’s facial features are described with short, tight strokes, producing a superb character study of roughened, hard-bitten, stubborn manliness. Such handling explains why Guercino is among the most celebrated draftsmen of the seventeenth century. He drew frequently, instinctively, and compulsively, using his quill pen to visualize, to think, to problem solve, to invent. He kept his drawings largely to himself in his lifetime, producing thousands for his own artistic purposes and enjoyment. Only after his death were they to become the prized works of collectors.

Details
Title
Hercules
Artist Life
(Bologna), 1591–1666
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2013.23
Provenance
The artist's nephews, Benedetto and Cesare Gennari, Casa Gennari, Bologna; by descent to Carlo Gennari, Bologna (probably sold with large group of Guercino drawings to Forni); '[Francesco Forni, Bologna; sold to Bouverie]; John Bouverie, East Betchworth, Surrey (c.1745); his sister, Anne Bouverie, London (until 1757); her husband John Hervie (until 1764); his son, Christopher Hervey, East Betchworth, Surrey (until 1786); his aunt, Elizabeth Bouverie, Barham Court, Teston, Kent (until d. 1798; bequeathed to Middleton); Sir Charles Middleton, later 1st Baron Barham, Barham Court, Teston, Kent (until d. 1813); his son-in-law, Sir Gerard Noel Noel, 2nd Baron Barham (until d. 1838); his son Charles Noel, later 1st Earl of Gainsborough; by descent to Charles Noel, 3rd Earl of Gainsborough, Exton Park, Oakham, Rutlandshire, England (until '1922; 'his sale, London, Christie's, July 27, 1922). Sale, Vanderkindere, Brussels, June 12, 2012, no. 55, to Ongpin; [Stephen Ongpin, London, no. 9]
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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head and torso of bearded man, with curly hair, holding a thin club over his PR shoulder; PL hand on hip; bare-chested, with lion skin over his PR shoulder