The Labors of Hercules: Hercules Carrying the Columns of Gades

The Labors of Hercules: Hercules Carrying the Columns of Gades


Hans Sebald Beham

(German, 1500-1550)


Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Williams Collection 1950.465

Catalogue raisonné: Pauli 108.101 ; Bartsch VIII.158.103



According to myth, the Pillars of Hercules are the mountains flanking the Strait of Gibraltar. Here, Beham refers to another interpretation of the pillars as classical columns set up by Hercules in Gades—now the Spanish port of Cádiz—as a gateway to undiscovered realms. Two of Christopher Columbus’s expeditions to the Americas launched from Cádiz.

Beham was one of several German printmakers referred to today as the “Little Masters.” They established their artistic prowess by engraving remarkably small prints, appealing to collectors fascinated with miniature objects and curiosities.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

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