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Commodus as Hercules, after the Antique

1592
16th century
41.5 cm x 29.3 cm (16 5/16 in. x 11 9/16 in.)

Hendrick Goltzius (Mülbracht, Germany, 1558 - 1617, Haarlem, The Netherlands) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, Dutch
Medium and Support: Engraving
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Accession Number: 2002.2173.2/3

By the end of the 16th century the interest in antique sculpture had begun to take a more literal, archaeological form. Quintessential examples include Hendrick Goltzius’s series of Roman Statues. The prints he completed for an unfinished set were based on drawings of many sculptures that he had made during his first and only trip to Italy—a pilgrimage that was becoming the standard for artists from all over Europe. This print shows an unprecedented attention to detail and exactness in form and plasticity. More broadly, Goltzius’s series is symptomatic of the emergence of a canon of ancient sculpture that would transform the public’s understanding, as well as the ways artists were educated, for centuries to come.

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