A Study Of : Bronze Heracles And Marble Torso Clad In A Cuirass

1259 words - 5 pages

In ancient Rome, as with the majority of ancient cultures, religion and politics played an essential role in the making of art. Although new approaches towards art developed, such as portraiture, art was primarily used as a means of political messages and of religious worship. This is evident in two pieces from the early empire (27 BC- 96CE), the "Bronze Heracles" (30BC-70CE) which was used mainly for religious purposes, and the "Marble Torso Clad in a Cuirass" (90-96CE) which used as a political promotion for Emperor Domitian or one of his generals (MFA).Heracles the half human and half god, bastard son of Zeus, was the most popular of all the mythological figures in ancient Greece and Rome. His immense popularity can be attributed to the fact that he was half human, not especially bright, and tremendously strong. Many could identify with him, and it was reasonable for people to aspire to be like him. It is evident that Heracles was extremely popular, because of the vast quantity of artworks representing him. Common representations of the hero were medium sized bronze statuary and smaller statuettes. The "Bronze Heracles" located at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. It stands 101 cm tall and dates to 30 B.C.-C.E. 70. The statue was found broken near Norcia in Umbria, Italy (MFA). It has been reconstructed, and some parts in the middle of the back, the upper thigh, and the head and mane of the lion have been restored. Although Heracles is thought to have been holding a club in his left hand, and also have eyes inlaid with other materials such as copper, gold, or ivory, these part have not been restored. Bronze Heracles was made by hollow-casting, or the lost- wax method, developed by the Greeks. It is called the lost-wax method because an initial clay model of the statue is made, that is then coated with a layer of wax, which details such as hair are added to. Next, a thick shell of clay coats the wax, to form a mold of it. The clay on the outside and the inside of the wax are fired, and the wax melts from the heat, through a small hole. Finally the bronze is poured into the mold, and the clay is removed from it in pieces (Kleiner 131). Considering Heracles is hollow, it is no surprised that he was found as fragments.This particular statue of Heracles is not original in any sense. There are many ways Heracles was depicted in ancient Rome, and some were more common than others. Every Roman citizen knew the story of Heracles and his 12 tasks. The first and most famous task was to kill the Nemean Lion, which he did with an olive tree club. A favorite way of depicting Heracles, so that he was easily identified, was to show him with the skin of the Nemean lion, and the club with which he killed it (Kliener109). Probably many similar statues had been constructed before the "Bronze Heracles", and a few of them survive today. One very similar statue is "Hercule" located in the Louvre in Paris. This statue, also bronze is a strikingly...

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