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Cast Iron Statue, Hercules & young crocodile

Cast Iron Statue, Hercules & young crocodile


It is sometimes difficult at this remove in time to remember how advanced France was compared with her rivals in the last half of the 19th century, and how broad her footprint was across the globe. The Suez Canal, the Eiffel Tower, the beginning of the Panama Canal—these were wonders of the world and subjects of national pride. This very unusual Hercules fountain by Val d’Osnes, cast around 1870, reflects this cultural and historical moment. In the myth, the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, tries to kill the infant Hercules by placing serpents in his crib (Hercules was one of Zeus’s many illegitimate offspring). Instead Hercules kills the serpents and uses them as playthings. Here the infant Hercules, representing a France that is a vigorous new colonial power, is strangling a crocodile, which represents both past African conquests and successes to come in the New World. Val d’Osnes rarely created objects with such explicit political content, making this a true collector’s piece. The mouth of the crocodile has a tube inside, so this garden statue could also function as a water feature in one of our fountains or in a garden pond.






Cast iron


Mid 19th Century

Overall Dimensions

Width: 17 " / 43 cm
Height: 31 " / 79 cm
Depth: 19 " / 48 cm