This terracotta model of a recumbent male, whose attributes of club and lion's skin identify him as Hercules, is posed in almost exactly the same way as Michelangelo's statue of Dusk on the tomb of Lorenzo de Medici, Duke of Nemours, in the New Sacristy at San Lorenzo. The problem of attributing the present model is that nearly all the sculptors of ensuing generations dedicated their efforts to reproducing the compositions and artistic effects of the great master. Among these artists, however, the circle surrounding Vincenzo Danti (1530-1576) recommends itself as a likely source for the present terracotta.
Danti was a goldsmith by training who turned to sculpture in mid-career and was attracted from his native Perugia to Florence, by the lavish patronage afforded to sculptors by the Medici Grand-Duke, Cosimo I. One of the principal exponents in sculpture of the ideals of the Maniera ('Mannerism'), Danti was much influenced by the work of Michelangelo in Florence, especially by the recumbent statues of the Times of Day. Indeed, one of his principal commissions was for the decoration of the facade of the cross-wing of the Uffizi Gallery where he paid homage to Michelangelo's design for the tombs of the Medici Captains by setting a portrait statue of his patron above and between a pair of recumbent allegorical figures, male and female respectively, representing Rigour and Equity.
The ascription of the present terracotta figure is based, in part, upon its similarities to the figure of Rigour. However, the suave handling of the mature nude male body of Hercules, set off against the details of the attributes and the striated rocks below, also corresponds with other models on an equivalent scale by Danti, for example his preparatory model (now in the Bargello Museum) for Honour overcoming Deceit (Summers, op. cit., fig. 51; Santi, op. cit., fig. 28; Fidanza, op. cit., fig. 27).