Image series 22 / 2020: Myth of Hercules and Omphale

Popular Subject in Art History

24 May 2020 | By: Bettina Pfleging

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Hercules, in ancient Greek Heracles, was, according to legend, a son of Zeus and a hero known for his strength, who was accepted into Olympus. Many stories of Greek mythology entwine around him. For example, he was sold as a slave to the court of the Lydian queen Omphale in order to make atonement for his outrages, murder and temple robbery, to do women’s work and in a symbolic exchange of clothes he also gave her the attributes of his male strength, lion skin and mace, and to wear women’s clothes. As a central pictorial theme it was already popular in the Roman Empire and in painting since the Renaissance, as an erotic as well as moralizing subject.
The exhibition traces the millennia-old myth of Hercules, who with his superhuman abilities came close to the gods.

„Herkules – Unsterblicher Held“
6 May until 12 July 2020, Kurpfälzisches Museum Heidelberg


Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti). Herkules vertreibt Pan vom Lager der Omphale, Ausschnitt, Öl auf Leinwand, Budapest; IKARE, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle, Institut für Kunstgeschichte und Archäologien Europas, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle, Zentralbibliothek


Lucas Cranach d.Æ. Herkules hos Omphale | Hercules with Omphale | Hercules with Omphale, Ausschnitt, 1535, træ | olie, 82 × 118 cm, Copenhagen; Statens Museum for Kunst, Statens Museum for Kunst


Annibale Carracci. Hercules and Omphale, Ausschnitt, 1560-1609, Red and black chalk; outlines partly pricked for transfer; framing outlines in black chalk, 39 × 43,3 cm, New York, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art


Peter Paul Rubens. Herkules und Omphale, Ausschnitt, 1602, Öl auf Leinwand, 278 × 215 cm, Paris; Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf


Michele Desubleo. Herkules und Omphale, Ausschnitt, Öl auf Leinwand, 263 × 22 cm, Siena; HeidICON – Europäische Kunstgeschichte, Ruprecht-Karl-Universität Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


Antoine Coypel. Herkules und Omphale, Ausschnitt, 1731, Öl auf Leinwand, 180 × 133 cm, München; DadaWeb, Universität zu Köln, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Universität zu Köln


François Boucher. Hercule et Omphale | Herkules und Omphale, Ausschnitt, 1731-1734?, Öl auf Leinwand, 90 × 74 cm, Moskva; ArteMIS, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München


Francisco de Goya. Herkules und Omphale, Ausschnitt, 1784, Öl auf Leinwand, 81 × 64 cm, Madrid; ConedaKOR Frankfurt, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Kunstgeschichtliches Institut, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main