Monumental E. F. Caldwell bronze sculpture of young Hercules wrestling two serpents fitted as a table lamp on verde antico marble base.
At the end of the 19th century, Caldwell worked closely with architects like McKim, Mead & White to design electric light fixtures for some of America's most famous buildings. These include the White House, The Harvard Club of New York City, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, and the J. P. Morgan residence.
The present example illustrates in Roman mythology the origin of Hercules, born to Jupiter and the mortal Alcmene. Hera was jealous of this union and sent two serpents to Hercules' cradle. Hercules strangled and killed the snakes, an early sign of his great feats to come. These feats from his later adult life are further illustrated in bas relief around the base of the sculpture.
On the base are depicted the twelve Labours of Hercules, entrusted to him by King Eurystheus as impossible tasks that the demigod nevertheless was able to complete: the lion of Nemea, the hydra of Lerna, the hind of Mount Cerineus, the boar of Erimanthus, the birds of the lagoon Stymphalia, the stables of Augias, the bull of Crete, the mares of Diomedes, the girdle of Hippolyta, the bulls of Geryon, the apples of the garden of the Hesperides and the last one, bringing Cerberus, the guard dog of the gates of Hell, to Eurystheus.
Since ancient times, the story of the infant Hercules has represented the weak overcoming the strong; it was a particularly symbolic metaphor in a new nation America. An early depiction of young Hercules dating from 200 A.D. may be found at the Capitoline Museum in Rome.
Measures 34 1/2" tall x 13" wide. Fitted with original cluster of four light sockets providing ample light. Good condition with pleasing dark patina. Exceptional casting and detail.
Monumental E. F. Caldwell Bronze Sculpture of Young Hercules Wrestling Two Serpents Fitted as a Table Lamp on Verde Antico Marble Base - New York City Gilded Age
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