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Votive Statuette of Hercle
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Unknown
Etruscan, Italy, 325 - 275 B.C.
Bronze
9 9/16 in.
96.AB.36

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Hercle, the Etruscan version of the Greek hero Herakles, is here depicted as a nude youth, standing relaxed with his weight on one foot. Originally his extended hand held a round object, perhaps an apple as a reference to the apples of the Hesperides, Herakles' last labor. The skin of the Nemean Lion confirms the hero's identity. Hercle wears the skin on his head with the front paws tied around his neck. By the late 300s or early 200s B.C., this depiction of Herakles wearing the lionskin over his head had gone out of favor in Greek art, but it remained popular among the Etruscans. This seemingly old-fashioned element in the statue is offset by the artist's knowledge of recent developments in Greek sculpture, as evidenced by the figure's contrapposto pose.

Hercle was a very popular figure in Etruscan bronze statuary. A worshipper probably placed this statuette in an Etruscan sanctuary as an offering to the deity.

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