SARACCHI brothers
(active 2nd half of the 16th century in Milan)

Hercules and the Hydra

Olive-mauve jasper cup with gold, enamel, pearls, diamond, rubies, height 34 cm
Museo degli Argenti, Palazzo Pitti, Florence

The body of this semiprecious jasper cup was carved in Milan in the Saracchi family workshop. The mount, including the statuette of Hercules by the sculptor Michele Mazzafirri, was executed in Florence, probably in the workshop of Francesco I de' Medici.

Hercules, considered the mythological founder of Florence, was a symbol that had been adopted by the Medici family since the fifteenth century. The colourful blue and green enamel face of the hydra, slain by Hercules as one of his twelve labours, is effectively accompanied by a set of seven rubies, one for each of the monster's heads.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.