Hercules Fighting the Centaurs, From the Labors of Hercules, 1542

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The legendary strongman Hercules was born to the god Zeus and a mortal named Alcmena. This union so incensed Zeus’s wife Hera that she made life almost unbearable for the hero. Her ire resulted in him undertaking a series of tasks, known as the Twelve Labors of Hercules. Sebald Beham challenged his audience’s knowledge of the classical text, engraving three actual labors and nine scenes of Hercules’ exploits before and after his labors.

While on his mission to seize the Erymanthian boar, Hercules angered some centaurs by drinking their wine. Art historian Andrew Stevens, whose writings helped explain these prints, wondered whether this print could symbolize the battle between humankind’s rational and animal natures.

Hercules Fighting the Centaurs, From the Labors of Hercules
Artist Life
Accession Number
Lawrason Riggs (1861-1940), Lugt 1756c, Baltimore. John E. Andrus III, Wayzata, Minn.; by descent to his daughters, Elizabeth, Katie, and Julie; gave to MIA, 2015. Earlier provenances have been gathered, but further research will increase our knowledge of their histories.
Catalogue Raisonne
Pauli, Hollstein 98 i/v; Bartsch 96
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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