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Hercules and Hydra - Antonio Pollayolo. 17x12
The small-sized painting by Antonio Pollaiolo (1433-1498), a Florentine painter of the Quattrocento era, depicts one of the exploits of the ancient Greek hero Hercules, or Hercules. The second tablet with a composition on the theme of this myth is also in the museum. Researchers suggest that both works are sketches for the large paintings that were commissioned by the artist Piero Medici, or their reduced copies. But they can be independent works, and then all the more it should be noted that Pollaiolo managed to endow such a small image with monumentality.
As a plot, the master took that part of the myth of Hercules, in which he fights with the Lernean hydra, a giant snake that had many heads and one of them is immortal. The artist transfers the tension of the battle, depicting the swollen muscles of the hero and a desperate expression on his face. Work is full of movement. The strength and power of Hercules is emphasized by the landscape located far below and the fact that the main character is placed against the sky. But at the same time, the painter was clearly fascinated by the beautiful and elastic lines of the draperies, the snake body, the winding ribbon of the river, which create a complex pattern in the work.