Moderno/Master of the Augmented Roundels, Standing Hercules and the Nemean Lion, bronze plaquette, Hercules standing left, strangling the lion and flanked on the left by a rocky cave surmounted by a castle and on the right by a barren tree in the form of a piece of coral from which hangs a bow and quiver and against which leans Hercules’s club, 105mm (Molinier 198; Bange 473; Lewis (1989), pp. 140, III, B, 2; cf. Scaglia V 21, variant A), pierced in the border and a few casting flaws at 6 o’clock, an extremely fine contemporary cast of high quality, some chasing evident in the fields, with a brown patina
Sold for £22,800
The attribution to the Master of the Augmented Roundels was made by Douglas Lewis in his seminal work “The Plaquettes of “Moderno” and His Followers”, Studies in the History of Art, vol. 22 (1989). Before this, the present plaquette type was firmly placed within the oeuvre of Moderno. Michael Riddick (in correspondence) has made a strong case for this, the larger of two versions of Standing Hercules and the Nemean Lion to be reconsidered as a work of Moderno himself, with the other version (as Lewis p. 140, I, 10 and fig. 9) made as a reduced-size rectangular alternative. In this regard the latter was possibly more suitable for mounting or displaying with other rectangular plaquettes by Moderno. The dimensions of the figure of Hercules on the present piece have been compared to the same image on a contemporary cast of the rectangular version (ex Adams collection, Bonham’s, 23 May 1996, lot 52) and they have been found to be identical (e.g. top of Hercules’ head to base of his right foot, 68.9mm). Douglas Lewis and Amy Struble in “A New Redemptive Symbolism in Moderno’s Plaquettes”, The Medal 72, Spring 2018 have suggested that another round plaquette, that of the Kneeling Hercules with the Nemean Lion, formerly given to the Augmented Roundels Master should now be considered an original work of Moderno whose attribution to the same sized Fall of Phaeton has never been doubted. Their article goes on to identify what has previously been described on this and other Moderno plaquettes (and certain medals) as a barren tree as in fact a branch of red coral. As they put it “from ancient times coral, and especially red, or precious, coral was connected both with blood and with magical apotropaic powers” which is, of course, appropriate to the subject matter of the present plaquette.