Hendrik Pulinx (Bruges, 1698-1781), an exceptional stone garden sculpture of Hercules, dated 1727, H 195 cm

The very impressive garden sculpture shows a combative Hercules as a muscular bearded young man, draped with the skin of the Nemean lion and holding his club ready to strike. In myths about Heracles' twelve labours, killing the lion was his first task. His dynamic contrapposto and determined look suggest that he is ready for his next assignment.

Hendrik Pulinx was an important architect, sculptor and ceramist of the Austrian Netherlands and a dominant figure in the Bruges art scene of the 18thC. He first dedicated himself to wooden sculptures and made various important works of art in commission for religious institutions in the 1720s and 30s. His most impressive works of this period are pulpits for the church of Watervliet (1726) and of the Saint Walburga Church in Veurne (1727). Later he abandons the wooden sculpture and starts working in marble, with the altar of the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges as his most famous work. Around 1750 Pulinx starts his faience factory near the 'Minnewater'. He experiments with colourful ceramics here, such as his famous marble imitated fireplaces. Unfortunately, the factory got destroyed in a fire, and not long after the rebuilding, the company went bankrupt. In poverty and dispute with his son, Hendrik Pulinx died with the Alexian brothers in 1770.

The sculpture here presented is signed and dated 'H. Pulinx Fecit 1727'. This seems an early dating, as no other marble sculptures are known of his hand before 1741. Therefore this yet unknown work might be an assignment as part of his training to join the sculptors' guild of Bruges. However, the art-historical importance of this monumental sculpture of Hercules cannot be overestimated, especially in the context of Bruges and its vicinity.

Provenance: an important Flemish noble family.

Further reading: Frans Vromman, 'Beeldhouwer Hendrik Pulinx en de achttiende-eeuwse kunst in Brugge', uitgeverij Van de Wiele, Bruges, 2003.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: the lot stays in situ and is therefore not exhibited in the auction house. The pick-up location is within a radius of 15 km of Bruges. The statue is presented on a large Belgian bluestone pedestal of a later date, which is NOT included in the lot. More information about the transport can be given by request.

  • Condition: - the usual wear and patina all over the sculpture, caused by climatological conditions
    - some chips to the marble
    - furthermore, the sculpture appears in a very good and original condition.