FERRARI, Gregorio de
(b. 1647, Porto Maurizio, d. 1726, Genova)
Hercules and Antaeus1690s
Oil on canvas, 217 x 148 cm
Palazzo Cattaneo, Genoa
The scene (Hercules wrestles with Antaeus) was a popular subject in sculpture. According to Appolodorus, on his way back from the Hesperides, Hercules engaged in a wrestling match with the giant Antaeus who was invincible so 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, his feet dangling and feature twisted in pain, levers himself with an arm against Hercules's head in a vain attempt to free himself. This typical image, well known in the Renaissance, does not appear to derive from any classical model.
The painting was part of a series of seven executed for the Palazzo Cattaneo Adorno di Strada Nuova.