Andrea Brustolon

Andrea Brustolon - Hercules

The young Hercules fighting the snake

Andrea Brustolon was born in Belluno, a small town not far from Venice, in 1662. There he first studied with his father, Jacopo Brustolon. In 1677 he was sent to Venice, where he was apprenticed to Filippo Parodi, a baroque sculptor from Genoa. The latter’s elegant and dynamic style would prove to have a lasting influence on Brustolon, although he would soon develop a more idiosyncratic style. In 1678-80 he spent some time in Rome, where he was further influenced by the work of Bernini and his contemporaries.

Brustolon worked almost exclusively in wood, perhaps because of the longstanding woodworking traditions of the Alpine area he hailed from. Many of his works, such as the present Hercules, are executed in boxwood, a notoriously hard to carve material that required a great deal of skill. The artist is also known to have worked in walnut, ebony and ivory.

His commissions included plenty of furnishings for churches in Venice, as well as many elements of the woodwork interior of the Venetian synagogue, the so-called Scola Levantina. Brustolon also received plenty of secular commissions, such as the series of forty sculptural pieces still visible in the Ca’ Rezzonico which he executed for Pietro Venier. Other families he worked for included the Correr and Pisani. Brustolon also made plenty of furniture such as tables and chairs, which he treated much as he did sculpture, with elaborate carvings decorating the arm- and backrests. It is believed he was active in Venice from 1680-85; afterwards he returned to his native Belluno, where he devoted himself mainly to carving tabernacles and devotional sculptures.

The present work, showing the young Hercules heroically fighting the snake the jealous Hera had placed in his crib, can be attributed to Andrea Brustolon on the basis of the elaborately carved ‘stone’ base of which Hercules is sitting, which can be observed in many of Brustolon’s works. Furthermore, the quality of execution and the material used all point to the artist. Finally, a very similar work, also attributed to the artist, of the same dimensions, was with Daniel Katz gallery in 2008.

Artist: Andrea Brustolon (Belluno 1662 - 1732)
Medium: carved boxwood
Dimensions: height 25 cm
Provenance: Collection Charles Van Herck, Antwerp.