Carlo Maratta Luca Giordano
Study for Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides (recto)
Carlo Maratta, Italian, Study for Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides (recto), ca. 1692, (recto) Pen and ink, brush and wash, over graphite on thick, moderately textured beige paper; (verso) brush and wash, graphite; 44.4 x 38.6 cm (17 1/2 x 15 3/16 inches) recto, Anonymous gift 52.194
In this exploratory drawing, the Roman artist Maratti imagined the complicated story of Hercules in the garden of the Hesperides, the hero’s eleventh labor. Commanded to steal three golden apples from the garden, Hercules persuaded Atlas to retrieve the apples for him but only after agreeing to bear the heavens and earth, Atlas’s burden. After practicing their weight-bearing poses at the paper’s edges, Maratti drew three women saddling Hercules with the heavens. A smaller-scale Atlas appears near the globe sketched at Hercules’s feet. The firmament on Hercules’s back provides the platform for three allegorical figures above: Victory, Honor, and Fame, symbols of triumph in late Baroque classicism. Maratti created the drawing in preparation for a painting cycle for his patron, the Bishop Ercole (Hercules) Visconti (d. 1712).