Annibale Carracci


Carracci drew this resting Hercules while preparing a fresco cycle for Cardinal Odoardo Farnese’s private study in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome. The mythical Roman hero is identified by his club, a lion’s hide, and the apple in his right hand. Though lifelike, the figure was not drawn from a live model. Instead, it was inspired by works that Carracci, a recent transplant from Bologna, encountered in Rome, such as an ancient sculpture of the reclining Roman river god Tiber. The drawing is executed on blue paper, which creates a middle tone between the black chalk shadows and white chalk highlights, endowing Hercules with a greater degree of volume and naturalism.

Annibale Carracci
Italian, 1560–1609
Study of Hercules resting, with separate studies of his head and foot, 1595–97
Black chalk, heightened with white chalk, on blue paper, incised
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray; 2019.838
Gray Collection Trust, Art Institute of Chicago
Photography by Jamie Stukenberg, Professional Graphics Inc.