Hercules kills the Symphalic Bird (1520) by Albrecht Durer

Hercules kills the Symphalic Bird - Albrecht Durer - 1520

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Artwork Information

TitleHercules kills the Symphalic Bird
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationGermanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany

About Hercules kills the Symphalic Bird

The artwork titled “Hercules kills the Symphalic Birds” was created by Albrecht Dürer in 1520. It is an oil painting on canvas, categorized as a mythological painting from the Northern Renaissance period. The painting currently resides at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, Germany.

In the painting, Hercules is depicted in an active stance, with one arm drawn back, wielding a large bow. The Greek hero’s muscular form is shown in detail, illustrating his strength and dynamism, befitting the legendary figure known for his might and heroic labors. Here, Hercules stands with a quiver of arrows on his back and is holding a decorated shield that has a richly adorned design, featuring a central motif emblematic of the period.

The scene itself captures a moment of tension as Hercules is aiming at the sky, facing off against the Symphalic Birds, creatures from Greek mythology known for their man-eating habits and pestilence. There are birds depicted in the painting—some in flight with metal-like feathers and others already struck by arrows. These birds, with their menacing appearances and sharp talons, contribute to the dramatic atmosphere.

The background of the artwork showcases a landscape that appears serene in contrast to the action, with a view of a valley, rolling hills, and what seems to be a small town or castle. This juxtaposition of calm scenery with the vigorous narrative foreground tells a story of mythical conflict playing out against the backdrop of a seemingly peaceful world. The skies are a bit tumultuous, which mirrors the dramatic endeavor taking place.

Lastly, the painting’s age and the technique used by the artist have resulted in a darkening of the colors and a certain subdued quality to the hues, which is typical of oil paintings from that era, especially before being restored.

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