Title: Hercules Attacking Three Satyrs and a Nymph
Dimensions: Image: 7 5/8 x 5 3/4 inches (19.4 x 14.6 cm)
Gift of Paul Ehrenfest, Class of 1932
Object Number: 85.026.007
Albrecht Dürer traveled to Italy in the early 1490s, where he was inspired to create narrative engravings populated with poses and physiques based on Greco-Roman sculpture. Here, Dürer’s Hercules at the Crossroads promulgates the beauty of the classical nude through cribbing the forms of a Venus sculpture, seen at lower left, and a heroic male nude, perhaps an Apollo, and using them in service to illustrate the story of Hercules quashing a brawl between a clothed personification of Virtue and a nude personification of Vice consorting with a satyr. Dürer’s print was both widely collected and copied through artists like Gabriel Salmon, whose interpretation of Hercules at the Crossroads can be seen at right. Though both defy anatomical accuracy by overemphasizing musculature and twisting limbs past their points of “natural” extension, Dürer’s animation of marble Venuses and Apollos, and Salmon’s promulgation of the subject, helped in part to form the visual language on which anatomists could base their anatomical models. Furthermore, Dürer’s Four Books on Human Proportion, which codified corporeal perfection based on measurements, helped artists adhere to a certain body type when illustrating their discoveries. Thus, the anatomical illustrations seen in this gallery are indebted to Dürer and his classically minded compatriots, and explore the extent to which the Greco-Roman model can be animated, dissected, and recontextualized in the name of scientific inquiry. (From "Undressed: The Nude in Context, 1500-1750" 2019)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.