Social History of Art

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16th Italy Villa Lante

Hercules and the Garden of the Hesperides, Casino, Villa Lante

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Hercules and the Garden of the Hesperides, Casino, Villa Lante
Hercules conquering the Garden of Hesperides and slaying the dragon was a common theme in court culture and especially in garden imagery, for example, at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli where the apples of Hesperides were one of the heraldic devices of the d'Este family. As a garden theme Hercules in the Garden of Hesperides combines traditional masculine power and warfare with the new courtly leisure of the Renaissance formal garden. Here Hercules was both invincible warrior and "gardener" of sorts. The theme has already been used in 15th-century Italian humanist literature (Pontano) to allegorize princely power, rule, and virtue.
Posted by Robert Baldwin on January 21, 2010 Full Size| Slideshow