Giordano represented 16 scenes from the Labours of Hercules (4 more than the canonical ones) in order to be able to fill up all the spaces in between the windows below the line of the cornice. Painted in the manner of fictive tapestries, a practice derived from his vertical wall paintings executed in Spain, he also added themes relating to Spain and to the moment when Mercury, Pallas Athene and Vulcan supply arms to Hercules.

All these compositions were lost and their appearance is now known from prints by Juan Barcelón and Nicolás Barsanti based on oil sketches by José del Castillo.

Hercules: the mythical ancestor of Charles II

The choice of Hercules is a clear reference to the mythical origins of the Spanish Habsburgs. Hercules was considered a hero gifted with superior moral and physical strength, which allowed him to overcome seemingly invincible enemies.

In a text on Hercules published in 1682 Francisco Fernández de Heredia included a “Continuous Chronology of Fathers to Sons of the Kings of Spain” in which he presented Hercules as the first Spanish monarch, continuing with a list of supposed monarchs that reached into modern history and as far as the 117th on his list: Charles II.

Ministerio de Cultura. Gobierno de España; abre en ventana nueva
España es cultura Spain is culture
Portal de la transparencia. Gobierno de España
Copyright © 2015 Museo Nacional del Prado.
Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23
Madrid 28014
Tel. +34 91 330 2800.
Todos los derechos reservados