“Hercules Epitrapezios” A Roman fine grained marble figure of a seated Hercules, he is resting on a rock that is partly covered by the lion skin, remains of his club on the rock and connected to the hip with a puntello (left hand would have rested on the club's end), right leg drawn back. The head was inserted separately in the neck's hollow. Roman Imperial Period, c. 1st-2nd century AD. H. 41 cm.

A Roman adaption of a Greek original. Copies or adaptions of this type are well known and were executed with some variation of head and arm position, but all show a resting naked Hercules on a rock. They are called Hercules Epitrapezios: “Hercules on the table” and refer to the original that was mentioned by Martial and Statius. A bronze statuette by the Greek master Lysippos (4th century BC) of Herakles seated on a rock with a drinking cup. It was created for Alexander the Great. Later it was passed on to a.o. Hannibal and Sulla. The type was very popular and Roman sculptors made many versions to meet the demand of Roman collectors who coveted Greek art. Owning a piece like this would associate the collector with a history of great military commanders and art connoisseurship.

Thomas Davidson visited the Jerichau collection in 1880 and wrote an article about the collection. The Hercules was compared to the iconic Belvedere Torso with a lengthy description on how the Hercules could help to restore the original image of the Belvedere.

The figure is present in the photograph of Wilkens.

Exhibited in 1974 in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek: Antik kunst i dansk privateje (Antiquities in Danish private collections).

Literature: Catalogue from the above exhibition, 1974, p. 27, cat. 152. T. Davidson: Ancient Sculpture in Rome. The Jerichau collection, The American Art Review 1880, p. 54 no. 6.

Provenance: J. A. Jerichau (1816–1883). Sold at the Jerichau estate sale in 1884, lot 13 “Seated Hercules. Head, arms and left leg broken.” Wilkens handwritten note “It is broken in half”. Stated in bill. Professor C. Wilkens (1844–1929). Danish private collection. Acquired at Bruun Rasmussen Kunstauktioner in 2003, auction 727, lot 231.


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