160th birth anniversary of Émile-Antoine Bourdelle
We will commemorate the 160th birth anniversary of the French sculptor Émile-Antoine Bourdelle (30 October 1861, Mantauban – 1 October 1929, Le Vésinet) with his Herakles the Archer (also known as Hercules the Archer), an iconic sculptural work portraying an archer with an exaggerated physiognomy. After the sculpture was exhibited at the Paris Salon, the art critic Charles Estienne wrote that Herakles the Archer was the most audacious and most easily remembered sculpture of the Salon exhibitions of the past years. The evaluation was congruent with the theory that Bourdelle passed on to his students – the form of a work can supposedly be adapted in terms of shape and certain parts of it emphasized using overstatement or deformation, should it be desirable to attract the viewer’s attention with its expression. The large model of an archer exists in several versions. The bronze statue in the holdings of the National Gallery Prague differs from the other versions with the added reliefs that depict Heracles fighting the Hydra of Lerna and slaying the Nemean Lion. These were two tasks of the twelve labours that the mythological hero had to fulfil in order to make up for his previous sins.