Hercules and Iolaus Slaying the Hydra

Giuseppe Piamontini (Florence 1664–1742 Florence)
Hercules and Iolaus Slaying the Hydra
After a model by Alessandro Algardi of ca. 1630, cast ca. 1700–1720
Bronze
12 3/4 x 9 1/8 in. (32.5 x 23 cm)

Hercules vanquished the hydra by lopping off its magically regenerating heads while his nephew Iolaus sealed the stumps with flames. Here, the figures circle around the twisting monster as Iolaus gazes in terror, not knowing if the battle can be won. Piamontini adapted this composition from a large-scale sculpture by Alessandro Algardi. He finished the bronze in a manner reminiscent of that admired Baroque master, contrasting the smooth, flowing rhythms of the nudes’ musculature with the finely textured chiseling on the rocky base, the figures’ hair, and the torch’s flame.

Piamontini was one of the last great masters of the Florentine Baroque statuette. Four of his bronzes are exhibited together in the same gallery.