Hercules the Archer

6ème étude dite 2ème composition

" Momentum is the supreme law " (Bourdelle)

Hercules is one of the most important figures in Greek mythology and in Bourdelle's world. A symbol of virility, he embodied the acceptable face of blind violence. In the story of his twelve tasks, we can see the birth of heroic humanity.
A divine life force animates the " bravura piece " oh Héraklès archer (Hercules the Archer). In fact, it was in these terms that the work, created for the collector Gabriel Thomas, was praised at the Salon des Artistes in 1910.
Engaged in a merciless struggle against the birds of Stymphale Lake, the hero stretches his bow and summons up his courage. There is a clear yet contained sense of momentum. Bourdelle created the agonising pose by working the clay in front of his model, Commander Doyen-Parigot, an " admirable athlete " he met at the " Rodin Saturdays " (informal receptions).
The chest thrust back and the contracted knee and right arm increase the tension of the left leg, above the gaping void. And the chiselled mask of the hero, perhaps inspired by archaic Greek statuary, has the incisive beauty of a missile fired towards a target : the arrow becomes the trajectory of mankind.