Between 1576 and 1589 Giambologna cast in silver a set of six figures of the Labours of Hercules for Francesco I de' Medici that were destined for the Tribuna of the Uffizi, Florence. All are now lost, but the models were recorded in anonymously made bronze replicas that closely followed Giambologna's style. Avery, in his introduction to the models of the Labours (loc. cit.), proposed that it was Pietro Tacca, Giambologna's proégé, that executed the bronzes as he, by 1633, was asking for payment from the Grand Duke for the five bronzes he made as diplomatic gifts for Charles I.
Although the present lot is clearly the inspired by this series, and certainly a by-product of Giambologna's creative genius, it does not correspond directly to his original wax model in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (Florence, loc. cit.). While the figure of Hercules has retained the same pose and physiognomy, Giambologna's Hydra has been substituted for another, more serpent-like beast. The vigorous chasing to the surface of the serpent's necks, combined with the brassy alloy of the metal, suggests that the bronze is the product of a northern European foundry, probably in southern Germany, where Giambologna's works were highly acclaimed even in his lifetime. Indeed, Adrien de Vries, one of Giambologna's great protégés, produced a monumental fountain for the Weinmarkt, Augsburg, surmounted by a figure of Hercules slaying the Hydra. It is quite likely, therefore, that the original model was appropriated by a follower of Giambologna's and interpreted sometime in the early 17th century.