A copy of the Farnese Hercules, original marble statue in the Museo Nazionale, Naples (illustrated Larousse, p.190). It is not, however, a direct copy and there are some quite specific differences. Hercules is shown standing, naked, in a classical pose, weight on right foot, right hip thrust out, left knee slightly flexed, left foot advanced. Right hand behind his back holds three balls. He leans on his club, the butt end of which (draped with the lion skin) is beneath his arm pit. Left arm hanging forward, relaxed.
The first of Hercules' Twelve Labours was to kill the Nemean Lion, which he engaged hand-to-hand and finally strangled. The lion skin, together with his great club, are familiar attributes of pictorial and sculptural depictions of the hero. The three balls held in Hercules' right hand are a puzzle since they seem to play no part in his mythology. Perhaps they represent the golden apples of the Hesperides.
'Fine quality lead copy of the Farnese Hercules on a stone pedestal. Removed from Condover Hall, the seat of the Owen Family. English work, probably John Nost' (1) In 1804, it was sold to Robert Hill, a plumber, who lived on Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury. It remained in his yard and in the yard of a Mr Eccleston, on the Town Walls, for some years, when it was bought by Mr W H Griffiths, governor of the prison, who had it erected on the Dana, at the head of Howard Street, The next purchaser was Mr J B Minor, of Astley House, who was mayor of the borough in 1851. Through the interventions of Mr Pidgeon, the treasurer of the borough, he presented it to the town; and it was at once removed to the entrance of the Quarry. When the new gates were erected, the statue was again moved to its present site (in 1881).
The statue has been vandalised over the years and recently has occasioned considerable comment about its condition. In 1988 a letter from Russell Mulford complained about the mutilated state of the statue (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 3 August 1988). In 1997 Shrewsbury Borough Council agreed in principle plans for a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for help to fund a £2.5 million facelift of the Quarry Park. Part of the plans were to restore the Hercules and Sabrina statues and put them into a museum store. Replicas would then replace them in the park (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 20 November 1997; Shropshire Star 21 November 1997). In 199, Alan Howard, conservationist, called for a public fundraising campaign to remove Hercules from his 'perch near the skips in the Quarry' and move him into the town centre (Shropshire Star, 18 March 1999)
on front of pedestal, third element up, in square recessed panel, in Roman capitals, unpigmented, HERCULES
on front of second element of pedestal, unpigmented: Copy of the statue executed by the Athenian sculptor GLYCON and known as the Farnese Hercules
PMSA recording information