Hercules and Omphale

circa 1585, Artist: Bartholomäus Spranger



Hercules and Omphale

To atone for his violent temper, Heracles, the celebrated Greek hero and demi-god blessed with exceptional strength, became the slave of Queen Omphale. She humiliated the hulk by making him wear women’s clothes and help with spinning wool. This “role reversal” was a popular subject, often read as an ironic warning of the dangers inherent in the “regiment of women”. The hero’s ignominious situation is reflected in his cowering pose and his suggestive glance he is both humiliated and besotted. This is contrasted with the nonchalant pose and almost arrogant glance of Omphale, who is wearing the hero’s lion’s skin and holding his club. Inv.-Nr. GG 1126

Location: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Kabinett 22

Object data

Object Name





circa 1585


Bartholomäus Spranger (1546 Antwerpen - 1611 Prag) - GND




Overall: 23,2 cm × 18,4 cm × 0,1 cm
Framed: 35,5 cm × 31 cm × 3,5 cm


Inscribed on the left of the base frame: BAR.SPRANGERS.ANT.FESIT

Image rights

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie

Inv. No.

Gemäldegalerie, 1126


From the treasury of Rudolf II; 1780 from the Imperial Treasury to the Picture Gallery;

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