Italian, early 18th century
- Hercules at the crossroads
- white marble
- 67 by 133cm., 26 5/8 by 52¼in.
This spectacular, large marble relief shows the allegorical narration of Hercules at the crossroads. The central group of Hercules with the personifications of Virtue and Vice is based upon Annibale Carracci's (1560-1609) painting of the same subject, formerly in the Farnese collection in Rome and now in the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples. But the sculptor transformed and enriched his source, adding the group of the putti to the right, together with a number of further attributes.
For its style, the relief was probably conceived by a sculptor from the circle of Theodon. Large-scale marble reliefs which competed with paintings became very popular in early 18th-century Rome. Most of these were however done for churches. This is a very rare example of an allegorical, classical subject, which must have been made for a Roman palazzo.
R. Engass, Early Eighteenth-Century Sculpture in Rome, 2 vols., University Park/ London, 1976, pp. 63-72, figs. 2-14; E. Panofsky, 'Hercules am Scheidewege', Studien der Bibliothek Warburg, XVIII, 1930; D. Posner, Annibale Carracci. A study in the reform of Italian painting around 1590, 2 vols., London, 1971, pp. 40-1, no. 93