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January 09, 2003

Pic of the Day


Today’s pic of the day is from Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617), who is generally treated in histories of art as a sort of transitional figure. He first pops up as a virtuouso printmaker from the sticks (Holland) with a Mannerist taste for Michelangelesque nudes. After a trip to Italy in the early 1590s, he becomes the medium through which the Dutch artistic community is introduced to a more classical visual language. Finally, his drawings of the Dutch countryside begin the naturalistic tradition of Netherlandish landscape art. In short, he is presented as either a “behind-the-times provincial,” a “conduit” or a “forerunner.” Ouch.

I’ve never quite been able to reconcile his “B” team status with the power of many of his images. For example, our selection today is an engraving made from the Farnese Hercules. While this statue has been drawn and engraved countless times, I’ve never seen a presentation that matches the unique power of this one. Goltzius has presented us with an utterly convincing image of masculinity as a force of nature (note the way the muscles of the upper back rhyme with the cloud patterns in the sky above.)

H. Goltzius, Farnese Hercules, ca. 1592 (detail)

Goltzius was also an astonishingly gifted portrait artist, who gives his portrait heads a remarkable combination of sculptural clarity and living intimacy. Along with the full image of "The Farnese Hercules" are two examples from his Italian sojourn, presented below as thumbnails. (On the left of the "Hercules" is a portrait of the sculptor Giambologna, and on the right a self portrait.)



posted by Friedrich at January 9, 2003


Thanks for the Goltzius samples--they're tremendously vivid. Imho, the Hercules isn't just about masculinity as a force of nature--considering the unwhelming little guys at the bottom of the engraving, the point may also be that masculinity isn't especially well instantiated in civilization.

Posted by: Nancy Lebovitz on January 9, 2003 9:08 AM

Hmm.... I found other article about this theme... But I did'n remember URL, sorry... Try to search google....

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