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Hercules and Omphale

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Hercules and Omphale

Anton Eisenhoit, German, (1553–1603)
Bartholomaeus Spranger, Flemish, (1546–1611)
After Bartholomaeus Spranger, Flemish, (1546–1611)

Creation date: 1590
Creation place: Netherlands

Other Information

Type: Engraving
Medium and Support: Engraving
Credit Line: Gift of Norman Leitman and Todd Butler
Accession Number: 2004.190
Dimensions: 12 5/8 in. x 9 in. (32.07 cm x 22.86 cm)

Label Copy

This print reproduces one of a series of paintings made for Emperor Rudolf II by Bartholomaeus Spranger, who was the leading artist at Rudolf’s court in Prague. It shows the Greek hero Hercules, who was enslaved by Omphale for having committed a murder. Omphale has stripped Hercules of his belongings, and as if to humiliate Hercules, she carries his club and wears the lion skin in which he is usually dressed. Yet, because the two were to become lovers, the depiction carried overtones of erotic playfulness for Spranger’s audience, who would have been familiar with the story.

Anton Eisenhoit
German • 1553/4–1603
Hercules and Omphale
(after Bartholomeus Spranger)
Engraving • 1590
The Delphic oracle ordered Hercules to serve the Lydian
queen Omphale for three years, during which the two
became lovers. Hercules submitted to her requests,
including spinning wool and other traditionally female
roles. He also relinquished his signature lion-skin and
club to Omphale and instead dressed in her clothing
as part of his penance. The last line of the inscription
reads “Love conquers him whom Mars will not be
able to conquer.”
Gift of Norman Leitman and Todd Butler, 2004.190
Last Updated: 5/12/2015


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Mannered Bodies San Diego Museum of Art , 4/3/2010 - 7/25/2010

Divine Desire: Printmaking, Mythology, and the Birth of the Baroque , 3/28/2015 - 6/30/2015

Visible Vaults The San Diego Museum of Art , 11/12/2016 - 00/00/00


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Michael Brown, PhD and Niria E. Leyva-Gutiérrez. Divine Desire. Printmaking, Mythology, and the Birth of the Baroque San Diego Museum of Art, The. SOS Printing, 2015

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