As Ovid's Fasti (Roman calendar) relates, Hercules and Omphale once exchanged clothes for fun. At night a faun entered Omphale's bedroom, who, deceived by the female clothes, was kicked out by Hercules; the servants, woken up by the noise, hurried in, and everyone was highly amused at the goat-legged god's misfortune. Carlo Ridolfi, the chronicler of Venetian painting, informs us (1648) that Tintoretto painted this myth with erotic content, together with three further episodes from the life of Hercules, for the emperor Rudolf II. The Budapest picture, in which the flickering light of the torches and the diagonal positioning of the vehemently moving figures create a dynamic overall effect, originally belonged to this set commissioned by the emperor, and is one of the master's late works.


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