MADERNO, Stefano
(b. 1575, Roma, d. 1636, Roma)

Hercules with the Infant Telephus

1620
Terracotta, height 51 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Perhaps Maderno's most important and characteristic works are his small terracotta models, bronzes and marbles derived, with varying degrees of freedom, from antique models and from works by Michelangelo and Giambologna. His signed and dated terracotta model of the Farnese Hercules (h. 525 mm, 1617; Oxford, Ashmolean) and the bronze variant in Vienna, Hofburg-Schauräume, are, except for the overdeveloped musculature, faithful reproductions of the famous ancient statue. More inventive is his series of signed and dated terracottas representing the Labours of Hercules (Venice, Ca' d'Oro): Hercules and the Nemean Lion (1621), Hercules and Cacus (1621) and Hercules and Antaeus (1622). These works, created all'antica but not dependent on specific ancient models, combine strong naturalism and studied classicism in dynamic compositions. These terracottas, as well as others in St Petersburg (Hermitage), were certainly created as independent objects for collectors.

This statue is a variant of an antique Greek statue by Lysippos (4th century BC), known from a Roman copy (2nd century AD). It depicts Hercules holding his infant son Telephus in his arms. In myth, Telephus was exposed by his mother in the wilds and suckled by a deer.