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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
87001123

The Farnese Hercules

CNG 87, Lot: 1123. Estimate $500.
Sold for $1200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Aurelian. AD 270-275. Æ Denarius (18mm, 2.21 g, 6h). Serdica mint. 6th emission, AD 274. Laureate and cuirassed bust right / The “Farnese” Hercules standing facing, head right, resting hand on hip and holding club set on rock; lion skin beside club. RIC V 74 (Rome); BN -; MIR 47, 246d0. Near EF, brown and green patina, traces of silvering. Very rare.


This reverse type is modelled after, or based on the same subject as, the famed marble Farnese Hercules statue that was discovered in the excavations of the Baths of Caracalla in 1546. It stood for over 200 years in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, from whence it gained its name, and was moved to Naples in 1787, where it is now displayed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. The statue is thought to be an enlarged copy sculpted in the early 3rd century AD by Glykon based on an original by Lysippos dating to the 4th century BC. The statue depicts Hercules at rest after completing his Labors: he is shown standing with his club, draped in the skin of the Nemean Lion, set upright on a rock, propped under his left arm supporting the weight of his muscular frame, his head slightly nodding forward in a weary attitude, and he holds the apples of the Hesperides behind his back in his right hand. The sculpture was apparently well-liked by the Romans, and copies have been found in Roman palaces and gymnasiums.