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Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar
Zurbarán, Francisco de
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Zurbarán, Francisco de

Fuente de Cantos, Badajoz (Spain), 1598 - Madrid (Spain), 1664

Zurbarán, Francisco de See author's file

Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar

1634. Oil on canvas. Room 009A

Hercules’s encounter with the Erimanthean bore is not the best known of his labors. At first glance, it would appear to be nothing more than a new demonstration of his capacity to vanquish evil and save humanity from its excesses. Zurbarán’s depiction places the hero in the foreground at the center of the composition. He is about to kill the colossal wild bore that was laying waste to the land around Mount Erymanthus in Arcadia, terrifying its shepherds and attacking their herds. Hercules kills the fierce creature with his club, bringing peace to the previously haunted land. To satisfy the curiosity of Eurystheus, king of Tiryns, he carries the animal’s body on his shoulders to that Greek city. That part of the story appears in the right corner of the composition. Baltasar de Victoria relates this episode with that of the Calydonian bore, emphasizing Hercules’s deed by defining the bore as a furious, vengeful animal, and adding that poets compare vengeful and overly daring men to bold bores. Thus, in this approach to the Spanish monarch’s mythical ancestor, the emphasis is placed on his capacity to vanquish his worst enemies. It has been suggested that the basis for this depiction of Hercules’s figure is Cornelis Cort’s print of that hero’s defeat of the hydra of Lerna, in which his posture is a mirror image of the painting. However, Zurbarán’s most directly available model may have been Cort’s print of Hercules with the Pygmies, in which the hero appears with almost the same posture. In any case, this painting’s composition is very similar to Zurbarán’s Hydra of Lerna (P1249), in which the protagonist’s posture is very open as a result of the forced position of his arms and legs and his carefully modeled musculature, emphasized by exaggerated lighting that clearly distinguishes his figure out from its surroundings. His head is rendered with small touches of color applied over the red priming to achieve a straightforward though rather showy pictorial resolution. That priming, which also shows through in his hands, gives the hero a peculiar, almost sunburned appearance. Moreover, his very dark hair adds a deeply Spanish air.

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, En El Palacio del Rey Planeta, Úbeda de los Cobos, A. (ed), Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2005, p.152


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Inventory number
Zurbarán, Francisco de
Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar
Height: 132 cm.; Width: 153 cm.
Serie Trabajos de Hércules, Salón de Reinos, Palacio del Buen Retiro
Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, 1701, no. 258; Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, no. 529).

Bibliography +

Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España. Vol. I, VI, Joachin Ibarra, Madrid, 1776, pp. 130.

Inventario Real Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1794, pp. 16002(529).

Catálogo oficial ilustrado de la exposición de las obras de, J. Lacoste, Madrid, 1905.

Soria, Martin S., The Painting of Zurbaran, Phaidon, Londres, 1955, pp. 155.

Velázquez y lo velazqueño: catálogo de la exposición homenaj, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1960, pp. 102.

Torres Martín, Ramón, Zurbarán: el pintor gótico del siglo XVII, Gráficas del Sur, Sevilla, 1963, pp. nº119.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II : 1701-1, Museo del PradoPatronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 297.

La obra pictorica completa de Zurbarán, Noguer, Barcelona, 1976, pp. nº138.

Zurbarán: 1598-1664, Ediciones Polígrafa, 1976, pp. 32,33.

López Torrijos, Rosa, La mitología en la pintura española del Siglo de Oro, Cátedra, Madrid, 1985, pp. 369.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 788-789.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Philip IV and the Golden House of the Buen Retiro in the Tradition of Caesar, Garland PublishingInc., Nueva York, 1986, pp. 227.

Fernandez Miranda y Lozana, Fernando, Inventarios Reales Carlos III 1789-1790, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1988, pp. 297.

Guinard, Paul., Zurbarán et les peintres espagnols de la vie monastique /, Les Editions du Temps, París, 1988, pp. 46,47.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Caturla, Maria Luisa, Francisco de Zurbarán, Wildenstein Institute, París, 1994, pp. 114.

Anes, Gonzalo, Las colecciones reales y la fundación del Museo del Prado, Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 205,206.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez, Rubens, Lorrain: Malerei am Hof Philipps IV, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deu, Bonn, 1999, pp. 200.

Elliot J.H., Historia y mito en el Salón de Reinos. En Historias inmortales, Barcelona, 2003, pp. 211-228.

Brown, Jonathan, Un palacio para el rey: el Buen Retiro y la corte de Felipe de Felipe IV, Taurus, Madrid, 2003.

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, En El Palacio del Rey Planeta, Úbeda de los Cobos, A. (ed), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 152.

Simal, Mercedes, El palacio de Buen Retiro y sus colecciones durante la Guerra de la Independencia. Antecedentes y consecuencias, Jornadas de Arte (14ª. 2008. Madrid) Arte en tiempos de guerra, 2009, pp. 445-455.

Delenda, Odile, Francisco de Zurbarán, 1598 - 1664: catálogo razonado y crítico, Fundación Arte Hispánico, 2009, pp. 276.

Cano, Ignacio, 'Zurbarán (1598-1664)' En:, Zurbarán (1598-1664), Fondazione Ferrara Arte - Centre dex Beaux Arts de Bruxelles, Ferrara, 2013, pp. 16-35 [29].

Finaldi, Gabriele, 'Zurbarán, il 'Caravaggio spagnolo' e la pittura italiana' En:, Zurbarán (1598-1664), Fondazione Ferrara Arte - Centre dex Beaux Arts de Bruxelles, Ferrara, 2013, pp. 48-59 [53].

Cano, Ignacio, 'Zurbarán (1598-1664)' En:, Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664), Bozar Books - Fonds Mercator, Bruselas, 2014, pp. 10-29 [20].

Delenda, Odile, 'Vida y Obra de Francisco de Zurbarán 1598-1664' En:, Zurbarán : una nueva mirada, Fundación Colección Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid, 2015, pp. 15-29 [22].

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [258].
[258] Ottra [pintura] del mismo tamaño [siete cuartas de largo y vara y media de alto] marco [dorado] y auttor [] quando Hercules bençio a el Jauali elimanto tasada en Ueintte y Cinco doblones ... 1500

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 529.
Otra [pintura], igual a los anteriores [Escuela de Lanfranco ... de 7 quartas de alrgo y vara y media de alto] de quando Hercules venciò al Jabali helimoneo...1000

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 233.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 233.
Zurbarán. / 233. Hércules luchando con el javali de Erimanto, para llevarlo atado a su hermano Euristeo. / Alto 4 pies, 9 pulg; ancho 5 pies, 6 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1125.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 1244.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 1244.



Exhibitions +

El palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro
06.07.2005 - 30.10.2005

Velázquez, Rubens, Claudio de Lorena y la pintura en la corte de Felipe IV
07.10.1999 - 23.01.2000

Location +

Room 009A (On Display)

Update date: 04-12-2020 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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