CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
(b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar)

Hercules and Antaeus

c. 1530
Oil and tempera on wood, 27 x 18 cm
Private collection

The subject is taken from Apollodorus (2.5:11). On his way back from the Hesperides, Hercules engaged in a wrestling match with the giant Antaeus who was invincible as long as some part of him touched the earth, from which he drew his strength. Hercules held him in the air in a vice-like grip, until he weakened and died. Hercules is depicted with his arms locked round the waist of Antaeus, crushing the giant's body to his own.

This small panel is one of the two versions of this subject. The larger version (Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna) shows the protagonists entwined in front of a landscape background.