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Hercules Slays the Seven-headed Hydra. Pen and brown ink, grey wash. 19.3 x 12.9 cm.
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Hans Friedrich Schorer came from a family of artists in Augsburg and was trained by his father, Hans Schorer the Younger. A practised and productive draughtsman, his first dated works are from 1607/08. He became a master craftsman in Augsburg in 1616 and took over his father’s studio. No paintings in his hand have come down to us, Schorer appearing to have distinguished himself primarily as an author of pattern sheets for artist craftsmen and of finely rendered drawings after works by other artists. His extensive corpus of drawings encompasses religious and mythological themes, landscapes and genre scenes.
The inspiration for the present depiction derives from a landmark in the city of Augsburg, the famous Hercules Fountain moulded by Adriaen de Vries between 1597 and 1600 and cast by Wolfgang Neidhardt. Erected in 1602 the fountain, whose Italianate style was a novelty north of the Alps, greatly enhanced the city’s prestige and Schorer evidently also profited from the fame of this work of art.
The present drawing, executed with great care and concentration, was probably intended as a collector’s item. Schorer follows the model very closely. His characteristically precise, intricate drawing style faithfully reflects every detail of the muscular male anatomy and the complex coils of the hydra’s heads. The rocky strip of ground on which the duel takes place is an alienating element.