Hercules brings back to Admetus his wife Alcestis 


(Bergamo 1806-1884)

Hercules brings back to Admetus his wife Alcestis
before 1828
Charcoal, stump, white chalk, paper applied on canvas, 49.21 x 64.17 inch

“Your vow is fulfilled, Admetus: this woman has freed you! Here she is, look at her! This is Alcestis alive” with these words close the final Act of Alceste Seconda by Vittorio Alfieri, the last tragedy written by the piedmontese Count inspired by the homonymous work by Euripides. The pathos of the moment is powerfully rendered by the composition of this large drawing by Enrico Scuri, a preparatory sketch of a painting shown at the annual exhibition of Brera in 1828 and, unfortunately, now lost.

The physical presence of the figures shows attentive study of anatomy and antique sculptures (of note the magnificent rippling musculature of the demigod that recalls the Farnese Hercules); the strength of the gestures, meanwhile, transcends the rationality of classic models moving towards a greater attention to emotionality and feelings. The composition of the work highlights a pronounced sense of theatricality that does not hide the passion of the painter for acting, towards which he had a proclivity as from a tender age he spent time with the Swiss family Mariton.

Excerpt of the essay by dr. Chiara Fiorini in the catalogue of the exhibition “Metamorphosis of the Nude”, 2019. 

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