This bronze is cast after the original antique marble which was discovered in 1507 in the garden of a house on the Campo dei Fiori, Rome. The marble's early popularity is attested to by the fact that it was copied in bronze for François I of France and Charles I of England. Nicolas Coustou also did a variant version - where Hercules is holding the apples of the Hesperides in the place of the child - in marble for Louis XIV.
Although following the marble in most details, the proportions of the present bronze are more elongated in the fashion of the Coustou version (particularly in the form of the terracotta maquette - for an illustration of which see F. Souchal, French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th centuries - The reign of Louis XIV, I, 1977, no. 4, p. 153). Hercules' grip on the club has also been altered, and the infant is rendered much more freely than in the antique version. It is particularly in the rather waxy details of the child's face and hair that one begins to see the individuality of the artist who created this bronze. They recall the work of Francesco Fanelli, who was court sculptor to Charles I in the first half of the 17th century.