Seated Hercules and Cerberus

Giuseppe Piamontini (Florence 1664–1742 Florence)
Seated Hercules and Cerberus
Cast ca. 1715–25
Bronze 
20 7/8 x 13 3/8 x 11 in. (53 x 34 x 28 cm)

 

Hercules has subdued Cerebus, the three-headed guardian of Hades, who howls in anger and bites the hero’s club. The pyramidal massing of figures makes Hercules appear as if he is a muscular mountain of bronze. The statuette’s sheer bulk contrasts with its precise tooling. Matte punches were used to differentiate textures and chisels to establish vibrating linear rhythms.

Piamontini’s formal exploitation of the weightiness of bronze and his elegant working of its surface resonate with the 1959 painting displayed nearby, in which Cy Twombly plays the heavy roughness of thickly applied paint against delicately drawn calligraphic inscriptions.