Hercules and Antaeus

Attributed to Maso Finiguerra (Florence 1426–1464 Florence)
Hercules and Antaeus
Cast ca. 1460
Brass
9 7/8 in. (25.2 cm)

This miniature recreation of a monumental, fragmentary ancient Roman marble depicts the moment when Hercules defeats Antaeus by hoisting the giant off the ground and breaking his back in his arms. In a tour-de-force of bronze casting that rivals a Herculean feat, the sculptor has composed the figure group to balance on its own without support.

The compositional daring and emotional power of this statuette is inversely proportional to its size. Its superlative detail indicates that its author, like many Renaissance masters of bronze, was trained as a goldsmith.