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Gaspar van der Hagen, active 1747–died 1769
Sacrifice to Hercules
ca. 1766
Materials & Techniques:
Marble relief
Overall: 24 x 28 15/16 inches (61 x 73.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund and a Gift from the Parnassus Foundation, Courtesy of Jane and Raphael Bernstein
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
altar | apples | cup | fire | Greek architecture | laurel | men | Nemean lion | nude | religious and mythological subject | sacrifice | statue | wine | wreath
Associated People:
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Gaspar van der Hagen was an assistant to John Michael Rysbrack for over twenty years, helping to supply the demand for classically inspired ornament for English interiors. In this relief, a small statue of Hercules stands before an altar on which a group of Roman generals pour a libation. It was based on a section of the ancient Arch of Constantine in Rome and was originally intended to decorate the space over a fireplace. Rysbrack, however, kept this relief in his own collection until his death.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

This magnificent marble bas-relief plaque is the only surviving work securely attributable to Gaspar van der Hagen, a pupil of the sculptor John Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770). Van der Hagen devised the plaque for a Palladian interior similar to Houghton, Godmersham Park, and Woburn Abbey, for which his master Rysbrack supplied many similar relief carvings. The subject, a sacrifice to Hercules, was borrowed from one of the marble reliefs on the Arch of Constantine in Rome, which van der Hagen probably knew through an engraving, but never saw in the flesh. Hercules is here represented as a statue on a plinth, while some of his traditional attributes, including the head of the Nemean lion and the apples of the Hesperides, are attached to the tree behind him. A laurel wreath is lifted over the head of the statue, while the fire on the altar in the foreground, into which a cup of wine is emptied, forms the focus of the sacrificial rite.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

Recent Acquisitions - Summer 2005 (Yale Center for British Art, 2006-05-19 - 2006-08-14) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Daniel Katz Ltd., European Sculpture, London, 2003, p. 54, no. 21, DealerCat Daniel Katz Ltd. [ORBIS]

Free Society of Artists, A catalogue of the paintings, sculptures, architecture, models, drawings, engravings &c. now exhibiting by the artists, associated for the relief their distresed brethren, their widows, and children, at Mr. Moreing's Great-Room, in Maiden-Lane, Covent-Ga, Catalogue of the Free Society of Artists, London, 1766, p. 14 [p. 95], no. 177, N5055 S62 C3 1760A (YCBA) Also available on line In 18th century Collection Online data base [YCBA]

Algernon Graves, The Society of Artists of Great Britain, 1760-1791, and The Free Society of Artists, 1761-1783 : a complete dictionary of contributors and their work from the foundation of the Societies to 1791, Kingsmead Reprints, Bath, 1969, p. 263, no. 177, N5053 G73 1969 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Rupert Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, Murrays Books sales, London, 1968, p. 406, NB496 G85 1968 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Langford & Son, Langford & Son sales catalogue : A catalogue of the neat collection of pictures, marble bustos and vases, fine models of bassos relievos and monuments of Mr. Michael Rysbrack : 14 February 1767, London, February 14, 1767, p. 3, lot 44, Available on line : Art Sales Catalogues Online [ORBIS]

Ingrid Roscoe, A biographical dictionary of sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2009, pp. 1300-1301, NB496 B56 2009 (YCBA) (Wall Shelf 3) Yale electronic resource also available online: Orbis [YCBA]

Angus Trumble, The Marble Bust, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2004, no. 20, V 1304 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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