This bust of Hercules is by Lucas Faydherbe (1617-1697), a sculptor from Mechelen who was a pupil of Pierre Paul Rubens. This representation of the hero Hercules, wearing a lion’s skin, is part of a series of terracotta busts representing mythological figures, a unique part of Faydherbe’s œuvre.
In total, ten busts of this type have been attributed to the artist. The characters most often represented are the counterparts of Hercules and Omphale. The Oracle of Delphi had predicted to Hercules that he would recover if he accepted to live as a slave and this was how it came about that Hercules the court of Omphale, Queen of Lydia, as a servant.
The precise function of these busts is unknown: they were nevertheless designed to be seen from below. This sculpture is clearly smaller than the other busts of Hercules. It is not known for certain whether the work is a sketch for the same large sized terracotta busts or whether it is a reduction made later.