In the present composition Hercules holds Antaeus in a vice-like grip off the ground, as the giant Antaeus twists in pain, desperately trying to free himself from Hercules’ grasp and return to the earth, from which he draws his immense strength. The drama of the moment is heightened by the bold modeling of the musculature and exaggerated facial expression of Antaeus.
The square jaw and high cheekbones of both figures are close to the known work of Andrea Briosco, called Il Riccio, the Paduan goldsmith who became one of the greatest bronze sculptors of the Renaissance. For the most striking comparable, see the central figures of the bronze Entombment in the National Gallery of Art, Washington (Allen and Motture, op. cit. no. 27) and figure of Moses in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris (ibid, no. 7). Camins noted (op. cit.) that the group shared the same graceful attitude and other stylistic similarities to a single Antaeus in Yale University Art Gallery and a single Hercules in Berlin, and they could all be from the same hand. The Yale Antaeus was previously attributed to Riccio by Charles Seymour in 1962, although this is now rejected, and Camins herself placed the Abbott Guggenheim bronze in the workshop of Riccio.
However, the tautness of the limbs of the figures in the present bronze, and their unorthodox and hardened stance suggests than the group should be affiliated with Camelio, rather than Riccio. Camelio’s oeuvre has been subject to much debate, and apart from a signed bronze relief of the Battle of the Giants there is little agreement over attributions. The differences in the treatment of voluminous hair in the Ca’ d’Oro relief and the present bronze mean that an attribution of the Abbott Guggenheim bronze is also difficult, but its creator was clearly an innovative artist working close to Camelio in Venice or Padua.