Collection Online
Hercules and Antaeus
oil on wood panel
65.6 × 49.5 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1947
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
16th & 17th Century Gallery - Painting and Sculpture
Mezzanine linked to Level 1, NGV International
Subjects (general)
Human Figures Religion and Mythology Violence
Subjects (specific)
fightingÊ giants (mythical beings) Heracles (Greco-Roman character) loincloths myths nudes (representations)
This work was acquired as a painting by Peter Paul Rubens, and bears all the hallmarks of his early maturity. Yet, its status remains somewhat unresolved. Opinion is divided as to the extent to which this painting may be entirely by Rubens himself. It may have been begun by Rubens and finished by another artist, or it might be a copy after a lost Rubens by an unidentified artist. The painting depicts Greek legend of the battle between Hercules and the Libyan giant Antaeus. Realising that Antaeus drew his incredible strength from his mother, the earth, Hercules defeated the giant by holding him in the air until his energy had drained away.