Hercules with Omphale

Hercules with Omphale

Titles

Hercules with Omphale

[cda 2011]

Allegorische Darstellung des Herkules mit der Omphale und mehreren lydischen Mädchen

[Verzeichnis 1826, fol. 72, No. 160][1], [1][Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994, 24]

Painting on beech wood

Medium

Painting on beech wood

[Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994, 24, 214]
[Klein, Report 1994]

Cranach's small format panel depicts an episode from the myths about Hercules: to atone for a murder the Greek hero entered the services of the Lydian Queen Omphale and finally became her lover. Out of love to her Hercules allowed himself to be humiliated by wearing women's clothes and doing

Cranach's small format panel depicts an episode from the myths about Hercules: to atone for a murder the Greek hero entered the services of the Lydian Queen Omphale and finally became her lover. Out of love to her Hercules allowed himself to be humiliated by wearing women's clothes and doing women's work like spinning wool, while he gave his club and lion's skin to Omphale. [1]

Accordingly Cranach depicts Hercules in the company of Omphale's servants, who place a bonnet on his head. The hero is shown spinning a thread, that is tensioned diagonally between his hands and is pulled from a distaff by one of the servants. Hercules appears to follow the thread with his gaze, which leads to the servant, who looks out at the viewer, including him in the events. It is not by chance that a Latin inscription commenting the event is located beneath the image. It is translated as follows: 'The Lydian girls give Hercules' hands work; the sovereignty of his mistress tolerates that divinity. Ruinous lust seizes powerful spirits, and even the most capable minds are enfeebled by tender love.' [2]

[1] Bischoff 1998, 154 f.

[2] Zitiert nach Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, 574

[Julia Carrasco, in Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015, 216]

Attribution
Lucas Cranach the Elder

Attribution

Lucas Cranach the Elder

[Exhib. Cat. Gotha 2015, No. 63]
[Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 2003, No. 74]
[Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994, 24]

Production date
about 1537

Production date

about 1537

[Exhib. Cat. Gotha 2015, No. 63]
[Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 2003, No. 74]
[Schade 1974, Fig. 175]

Dimensions
Dimensions of support: 14.4 x 19.2 cm

Dimensions

  • Dimensions of support: 14.4 x 19.2 cm

  • [Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994, 24]

Signature / Dating
Artist's insignia in the top right corner: winged serpent with elevated wings, facing left (unclear); in white paint

Signature / Dating

  • Artist's insignia in the top right corner: winged serpent with elevated wings, facing left (unclear); in white paint

Inscriptions and Labels
- bottom right, four lines in Latin: 'HERCVLEIS MANIBVS DANT LYDAE PENSA PVELLAE/ IMPERIVM DOMINAE FERT DEVS ILLE SVAE/ …

Inscriptions and Labels

Inscriptions, Badges:

  • - bottom right, four lines in Latin:
  • 'HERCVLEIS MANIBVS DANT LYDAE PENSA PVELLAE/ IMPERIVM DOMINAE FERT DEVS ILLE SVAE/ SIC CAPIT INGENTES ANIMOS DAMNOS VOLVPTAS/ FORTIAQVE ENERVAT PECTORA MOLLIS AMOR'
Owner
Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha
Repository
Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha
Location
Gotha
CDA ID
DE_SMG_SG7
FR (1978) Nr.
FR-none
Persistent Link
https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_SMG_SG7/

Provenance

  • recorded in Gotha Castle since 1764 [Inventar 1764, fol. 195, No. 93][1]
    [1][Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994, 24]

Exhibitions

Gotha 1994
Gotha 2001, No. 1.12
Hamburg 2003, No. 74
Gotha/Kassel 2015, No. 63

Literature

Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure / Plate
Dohe 2015 48
AuthorSebastian Dohe
TitleAemulatio, Anspruch und Austausch. Cranachs Kunst im höfischen Dienst
Publicationin Julia Carrasco, Justus Lange, Benjamin D. Spira, Timo Trümper, Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha and Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, eds., Bild und Botschaft. Cranach im Dienst von Hof und Reformation, [Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel]
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
Year of Publication2015
Pages43-50
Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015 216, 217 63 Pl. p. 217
EditorJulia Carrasco, Justus Lange, Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha, Benjamin D. Spira, Timo Trümper
TitleBild und Botschaft. Cranach im Dienst von Hof und Reformation, [Gotha, Herzogliches Museum; Kassel, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Schloss Wilhelmshöhe]
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
Year of Publication2015
Waterman 2015 284, Fn. 17; 286
AuthorJoshua P. Waterman
TitleThe Artistic Emergence of Lucas Cranach the Younger
Publicationin Elke A. Werner, Anne Eusterschulte, Gunnar Heydenreich, eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2015
Pages280-289
Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 2003 77, 181 074 Pl. 74
EditorBucerius Kunst Forum, Werner Schade
TitleLucas Cranach. Glaube, Mythologie und Moderne [Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg]
Place of PublicationOstfildern-Ruit
Year of Publication2003
Exhib. Cat. Gotha 2001 1.12
EditorGotha Kultur, Allmuth Schuttwolf
TitleErnst der Fromme (1601-1675), Bauherr und Sammler. Katalog zum 400. Geburtstag Herzog Ernsts I. von Sachsen-Gotha und Altenburg
Place of PublicationGotha
Year of Publication2001
Möller 1999 86-92
AuthorAngela Möller
TitleRestaurierung des Tafelbildes "Herkules bei Omphale", um 1537, von Lucas Cranach dem Älteren
JournalBeiträge zur Erhaltung von Kunstwerken
Issue8
Year of Publication1999
Pages86-92
Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994 24
EditorStiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha
TitleGotteswort und Menschenbild. Werke von Cranach und seinen Zeitgenossen
Place of PublicationGotha
Year of Publication1994
Klein 1994 B 214
AuthorPeter Klein
TitleHolzartenbestimmung und dendrochronologische Analyse an Gemäldetafeln von Lucas Cranach d.Ä. und seiner Werkstatt
PublicationAllmuth Schuttwolf, ed., Gotteswort und Menschenbild. Werke von Cranach und seinen Zeitgenossen, Exhib. Cat. Gotha
Place of PublicationGotha
Year of Publication1994
Pages210-219
Schade, Schuttwolf 1994 24, 25, 38 1.6 Fig. p. 24, Pl. p. 38
AuthorWerner Schade, Allmuth Schuttwolf
TitleMalerei und Plastik
Publicationin Allmuth Schuttwolf, ed., Gotteswort und Menschenbild. Werke von Cranach und seinen Zeitgenossen, Exhib. Cat. Gotha
Place of PublicationGotha
Year of Publication1994
Pages15-94
Schade 1974 Fig. 175
AuthorWerner Schade
TitleDie Malerfamilie Cranach
Place of PublicationDresden
Year of Publication1974
Link http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/schade1974
Parthey 1863-1864 699 (Bd. 1) No. 14
AuthorGustav Parthey
TitleDeutscher Bildersaal. Verzeichnis der in Deutschland vorhandenen Oelbilder verstorbener Maler aller Schulen
Volume1, 2
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1864

Research History / Discussion

Hercules and Omphale were mainly depicted as a pair, among others by Hans Baldung Grien and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch and as such the panel in Gotha represents a distinct pictorial invention by Cranach with neither prototypes nor followers and that was produced in his workshop between 1531 and 1537 in a least a dozen versions.[1] Cranach's versions, among which the small format panel in Gotha is a unique execption, vary showing between two and four female figures with Hercules, whereby the act of positioning the bonnet on Hercules' head, the tensioning of the thread and the distaff are recurring elements as is the slightly modified inscription, which is located here on a light background.[2] In the present image the number of figures, the composition and the gestures are similar to the panel in Braunschweig as well as the drawing in Berlin and are thought to be exemplary for the version in Copenhagen.[3]

Thanks to his virtues and his heroic deeds Hercules was regarded as the ideal ruler: in his interpretation of psalm 101, dedicated to Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous, Martin Luther employed the 'Weibermachtstopos' of Hercules and Omphale in accordance with classical prototypes as an exemplum to warn against the hazards of flattery and deceit that the ruler would have to ward off in the court.[4] The subject is repeatedly documented within a courtly context. It was recorded in 1513 among the 'Weibmacht' paintings decorating Johann the Steadfast's nuptial chamber in Torgau, while the panel in Copenhagen belonged to Albrecht of Brandenburg.[5] Against this backdrop the subject evolves - particularly within the context of the Saxon court which was well-disposed to reformation ideas - on two levels: on the one hand it alerts to the power of women, and on the other hand it urges political prudence.

[1] Generally: Smith 1995

[2] Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, 575; Baumbach 2006, 391 f. (appendix). Generally on the iconography: Bischoff 1998, for Cranach's pictorial inventions: Koepplin 2003.

[3] Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, Nos. 272-275

[4] Ebenda as well as Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 2003, 76, fig. 75 and 181, No. 76

[5] Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994, 24 f.; Bischoff 1998, 164 f.; Wiemers 2002, 228-230; Baumbach 2006, 384-387

[6] Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, 574-576, Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 2003, 181; Baumbach 2006, 370-384

[Julia Carrasco, in Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015, 216]

  • Hercules with Omphale, about 1537

Images

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Technical studies

08.04.2013Scientific analysis

  • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology

Support

Identification of wood species: beech wood

[Klein Report, 08.04.2013]

  • examined by Peter Klein

2010Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Infrared reflectography
  • irr

Underdrawing

DESCRIPTION

Tools/Material:

- fluid black pigmented medium, pointed brush

Type/Ductus:

- freehand underdrawing

- thin lines

Function:

- binding for the final painted version; lines delineate contours and describe the essential details; no representation of volume

Deviations:

- only minor alterations in the painted version to clearly define form

INTERPRETATION

Attribution:

- workshop

[Smith, Sandner, Heydenreich, cda 2012]

  • photographed by Gunnar Heydenreich
  • photographed by Ingo Sandner

1999Scientific analysis

  • Micro-sampling / cross-sections
  • Instrumental material analysis

'Pigment and media analysis by Maria Schramm und Prof. Dr. Peter Schramm, Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Dresden' (see p. 3, Conservation Report 1999-2001, Angela Möller)

  • examined by Maria Schramm
  • examined by Hans-Peter Schramm

17.03.1994Scientific analysis

  • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology

Support

Identification of wood species: beech wood

Youngest annual ring: 1522

[Klein Report, 17.03.1994]

  • analysed by Peter Klein

1966Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • X-radiography

Observations:

Threadcount: 12 vertical, 11 horizontal. The lead white image is barely visible. Faint craquellée. Relatively thick ground, which has also filled the interstices of the canvas (canvas not sized adequately). On the left edge of the painting there is a fill, which contains chalk. Numerous losses in the paint layers along the edge. The canvas has been cut at an angle. The weak lead white image and the careless workmanship suggest that it is the work of a follower of Cranach.

Martin Meier-Siem, Hamburg 1966

[Exhib. Cat. Gotha 1994, 24]

[see Conservation Report 1999/2001, Angela Möller, for a different interpretation]

  • examined by Martin Meier-Siems

Conservation History

Date1999 - 2001

  • conservation
  • conservation
  • conservation
  • conservation
  • conservation
  • conservation

Condition (Summary):

  • during a previous treatment campaign a coarse canvas was attached to the reverse of the panel to as reinforcement.

  • blisters in the paint layer had been filled with an extremely hard black fill material

  • a coating of lead white was applied to the reverse of the panel after 1966

Treatment (Summary):

1999/2000

  • the paint layers were secured with wax and the hollows beneath were filled with Paraloid in a 15% solution of ethyletheracetat

  • fill material was removed from the reverse of the panel

  • the woodworm channels were filled with hemp fibres and a mixture of sturgeon glue and sawdust

  • losses were filled and isolated, retouching was carried out in Tempera and Primal diluted with water

September 2001

Before the treatment was completed the painting was damaged when it fell out of its frame

  • the paint layers were consolidated, the losses filled, the surface leveled and isolated, retouching was carried out with watercolours

  • a wax-dammar varnish was applied (1:8)

  • conservation treatment by Angela Möller

Citing from the Cranach Digital Archive

Entry with author
<author's name>, 'Hercules with Omphale', <title of document, data entry or image>. [<Date of document or image>], in: Cranach Digital Archive, https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_SMG_SG7/ (Accessed {{dateAccessed}})
Entry with no author
'Hercules with Omphale', <title of document, data entry or image>. [<Date of document, entry or image>], in: Cranach Digital Archive, https://lucascranach.org/en/DE_SMG_SG7/ (Accessed {{dateAccessed}})

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