A bronze figure of Hercules Pomarius, by Willem Danielsz. Van Tetrode (C. 1525-1580), Third quarter 16th century. Estimate $1,500,000 – $2,500,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2015
On a later spreading ebonized wood plinth; 15¼ in. (39 cm.) high; 21¼ in. (54 cm.) high, overall.
Provenance: Dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Ducal Museum, Gotha.
H. Heilbronner, Berlin, from whom acquired in the 1920s by
Richard Weininger, his sale, Christie’s, London, 5 December 1972, lot 43.
Cyril Humphries, acquired at the above sale.
Acquired from the above for the Abbott Guggenheim Collection
Literature: J. Leewenberg, W. Halsema-Kubes, Belldhouwkunst in het Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1937, p. 167, no. 200.
H.R. Weihrauch, Europäische Bronzestatuetten, Braunschweig, 1967, p. 356, fig. 434.
Louvre, Le Cabinet d’un Grand Amateur, P.-J. Mariette, Paris, 1967, no. 15.
C. Theuerkuaff, Pantheon 27, 1969, p. 352.
C. Pedretti, Desegni di Leonardi da Vinci e la sua scuola alla Biblioteca Reale di Torino, Florence, 1975, no. 8.
A. Radcliffe, Arts Council of Great Britain, Giambologna: 1529-1608, Ein Wendepunkt der Europäischen Plastik, Vienna, 1979, pp. 179-181, no. 87a.
V.L. Bush, ‘Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus and Florentine Traditions,’ Memories of the American Academy of Rome 35, 1980, p. 169.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vermeer and the Delft School, 8 March – 28 May 2001, W. Liedtke ed., pp. 522-524, no. 141.
E.J.B.D., van Binnebeke, Willem Danielsz. van Tetrode: de Delftse Praxiteles, Een studie naar het leven en het werk van een Zestiende-eeuwse Nederlandse beeldhouwer, diss., University of Utrecht, 2003, (unpublished transcript).
New York, The Frick Collection, European Bronzes from the Quentin Collection, Sept. 28 2004 – Jan. 2 2005, M. Leithe-Jasper and P. Wengraf eds., p. 162-5.
A. Radcliffe, N. Penny, The Robert N. Smith Collection, The Art of the Renaissance Bronze, 1500-1650, London, 2004, pp. 136 and 141, no. 22.
V. Schmid, ‘Hendrick Goltzius and Willem van Tetrode’, Apollo, vol. CLIX, no. 505, March 2004, p. 55, no. 3.
F. Scholten and M. Verber, From Vulcan’s Forge, Bronzes from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1450-1800, Daniel Katz Ltd., London 2005, p. 106, no. 32.
Amsterdam and New York, The Rijksmuseum and The Frick Collection, Willem van Tetrode, Sculptor (ca. 1528-80),F. Scholten ed., 7 March – 25 May 2003 and 23 June – 7 September 2003, pp. 37, 122, no. 22 (illustrated, ill. 39).
M. Schwartz, ed., European Sculpture from the Abbott Guggenheim Collection, New York, 2008, pp. 144-145, no. 74.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Bronze, 9 Sept. – 9 Dec. 2012, D. Ekserdjian ed., 2012, pp. 196-197, no. 104.
Exhibited: Wakefield City Art Gallery, West Yorkshire, from October 1938, no. 14.
San Francisco, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Abbott Guggenheim Collection, 3 Mar. – 11 Sep. 1988, L. Camins ed., pp. 114-116, no. 39.
The Royal Academy, London, Bronze, 15 September – 9 December 2012.
Notes: Tetrode has become known as a sculptor of dramatic compositions and his Hercules Pomarius is one of his most celebrated models. The exaggerated body, with long legs and abbreviated torso, and, most notably, the wildly original and visually dazzling musculature, is unlike any other sculptor’s modeling. And of all Tetrode’s sculpture, the Hercules Pomarius, with its rippling torso, is probably his most extreme and exaggerated model. It is no accident that this model is complemented by a second Tetrode in the Abbott Guggenheim collection, that of the Ecorché of a Man (see lot 71). Yet this exhibition of raw physical power, together with the raised club, is juxtaposed with the calm, almost introspective, expression on Hercules’ face. So the overall effect becomes one of a more thoughtful ruler or hero, rather than the brutal warrior.
The model has been much discussed and studied since Scholten’s ground-breaking Tetrode exhibition at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and the Frick Collection, New York, in 2003. Most of the (then) known Tetrode sculpture was assembled, with similar models set side-by-side, for comparison and discussion. There are four versions of Hercules Pomarius: one in the Rijksmuseum, one in the Robert H. Smith Collection (promised to the National Gallery, Washington), one owned by the Hearn Family Trust, New York and the Abbott Guggenheim model. As Radcliffe notes, these four versions are so similar in detail and size that they all must derive from a single model and molds (A. Radcliffe and N. Penny, 2004, op. cit., p. 136). There are, however differences in some of the worked details and in the patination as well. Again, as Radcliffe notes, the Abbott Guggenheim version ‘…is either an unflawed cast or has had any flaws so skillfully repaired in the afterwork that they are nearly invisible…’ and he further proposes that the Abbott Guggenheim model was produced in one workshop while the other three were produced in another (ibid.). One notable difference in the modeling is that in the Hearn model Hercules’ club is slightly raised and not resting on his thigh – like the other three versions – and this lends more tension to the composition and gives Hercules both a more threatening and dynamic posture. There is a fifth copy of the Hercules Pomarius, now in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig, with considerable difference in the modeling and the composition, but Krahn has established that this is by Caspar von Turckelstein (1579-c. 1648)(V. Krahn, ‘…alles von brunzo’: Kleinbronzen im Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Braunschweig’, Die Weltkunst, LX, 1990, pp. 1215-16).
Tetrode, a native of Delft, was already working in the Florentine workshop of Benvenuto Cellini by 1548, and he may have been working under Cellini in Paris as early as 1542. His work and travels in Florence and Rome gave him ample time for the study of both Antique and contemporary sculpture and, as Scholten (op. cit., p. 123) and Radcliffe (op. cit., p. 140) both note, his Hercules Pomarius possibly relates to a drawing by Domenico Beccafumi, formerly in the collection of Vasari and now in the Louvre, which depicts a similarly muscled figure from the back. By 1566 or 1567 Tetrode had returned to the Northern Europe, where he remained for the rest of his life, with commissions in both Delft and Cologne.
Although Tetrode died without fame or fortune, a scant generation later his sculpture was being included in the collections of some of the most sophisticated amateurs of the Low Lands. As Scholten notes, when the Delft silversmith Thomas Cruse accepted the sculpture collection of Asper Franz van der Houve as a payment of debt in 1624, there wasKleinplastik by Giambologna, at the time the most celebrated bronze sculptor in Europe, and both a mold and statue of Tetrode’s Hercules Pomarius (Scholten, op. cit., pp. 66-72). And Tetrode clearly made a significant impression on a subsequent generation of Dutch and Flemish artists as well and his influence was immediately evident in their work. Hendrik Goltzius’ engraving of De Grote Hercules, of 1589, is perhaps the most spectacular example. Without being constrained by the difficulties of bronze casting, Goltzius has amplified the physiognomy of Hercules with the most astonishing musculature imaginable. Further evidence that Goltzius was influenced by Tetrode’s work in general, and specifically by his Hercules Pomarius, is provided by a drawing of Hercules Pomarius, dated circa 1585-90, and now in a private collection, the Netherlands. The drawing clearly represents Tetrode’s composition, and is attributed to Pieter de Jode who was a pupil of Goltzius in the late 1580’s and suggests that Goltzius probably had a model of Tetrode’sHercules Pomarius in his studio (Scholten, op. cit., pp. 69-70). Additional validation of Tetrode’s iconic Hercules Pomarius is proven by a pen and ink drawing of Hercules Pomarius by Adrian de Vries of 1615 and now in the Kunstsammlungen of the Dresden Kupferstichkabinett. De Vries, who was the Court Sculptor to Emperor Rudolph II in Prague, and at the height of his fame when the drawing was executed, had probably been apprenticed to Tetrode in Delft at the beginning of his career. And, as Scholten suggests, de Vries must have owned some of his master’s models as the drawing is so similar to the present Tetrode model, that it is almost inconceiveable it was drawn without the Tetrode Hercules Pomarius in mind (Scholten, op. cit., p. 71).
Three decades ago the name of Tetrode was barely known, as Camins notes it was not until 1978 when Avery and Radcliffe first identified this model, but now Tetrode is accepted as one of the most innovative and influential sculptors working at the end of the 16th century (Camins, op cit., p. 114). And his Hercules Pomarius remains one of his most iconic works – as mysterious and powerful to the modern viewer as it would have been to the Renaissance prince.
Christie’s. THE ABBOTT GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION: A NEW YORK KUNSTKAMMER, 27 January 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza.