Hercules and Lichas by Antonio Canova


Ercole e Lica (1795 - 1815) by Antonio CanovaLa Galleria Nazionale

From classical mythology to the modern cult of the body and of physical prowess, the figure of Hercules leaves a permanent mark on our culture.

The superhero of excellence: divine and human at the same time, invincible yet still vulnerable to temptation.

“Three thousand gold sequins to be paid in three installments: one third immediately, one third halfway through and the remainder upon completion.” This is what Antonio Canova responded in 1795 to whom he commissioned this work of art to.

A group of sculptures who represent a story from ancient poets. Hercules, maddened by the pain caused by the tunic soaked in the poisoned blood of the centaur Nessus, throws the very young Lichas into the air, who, unaware, had given it to him.

The hero appears in the moment of maximum muscular tension, caught in the act of lifting the foot of poor Lichas, who in vain opposes resistance for a moment before being thrown into the Aegean Sea and transformed into rock. 

Hercules is completely naked, except for a leaf and a very thin veil that Canova used to cover the mass of muscles.

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