Statue of Hercules

Bordeaux, Impasse Saint-Pierre, 1832
Late 2nd century – very early 3rd century A.D. Copper alloy. Inv. 60.17.1

When it was discovered in 1832, this statue was in more than twenty pieces. It was first reconstructed in 1865 for the 11th Bordeaux PhilomathicExhibition (Place des Quinconces) and then for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878 (Palais du Trocadéro). It was only in 1963 that it was definitively restored, for an exhibition on art in the Roman west at the Louvre Museum.

Despite the missing parts, Hercules is identifiable due to the lion skin rolled around his left forearm; that of the Nemean lion which he managed to slay during the first of the "Twelve Labours" imposed upon him as the price for immortality. He must have held his famous club in his left hand, while with the right he offered a cup of ambrosia, the drink of the gods and symbol of immortality. 

He is represented in heroic nudity, resting on his right leg, the other leg slightly bent behind, with an exaggerated pose that accentuates the head turned slightly to one side. The influence of the famous sculptor Lysippos can be read in this pose, which was very fashionable in classical Greek sculpture, and particularly in the proportions of the body and the powerfully rendered musculature.

Statue of Hercules (c) mairie de Bordeaux