Hercules as Atlas

For the first day of world watercolour month I have painted two views of a statue of Hercules as Atlas by William Brodie from 1863. It now stands in the village of Portmeirion in Wales where I have been on holiday this past week. I would be very interested to know if you prefer one of these sketches over the other and why? Please let me know in a comment!

statue watercolour 2

statue watercolour 2So, why is Hercules posing as Atlas?

Hercules’ father was Zeus, king of the gods, but his mother was a mortal woman and not Zeus’ wife Hera. Because of this Hera didn’t like Hercules very much and did various things to make his life dreadful. The most successful of those was to drive Hercules mad and cause him to kill his wife and children thinking that they were his enemies. When Hercules realised what he’d done he sought atonement and was sent on a total of 12 labours. The penultimate of these was to steal some golden apples belonging to Zeus. Theses apples were guarded by both the Hesperides (nymphs of the evening and daughters of Atlas) and a 100-headed dragon. This seems a bit like overkill to me but if you eat the apples then they make you immortal so I suppose security is important. Anyway, Hercules didn’t think he’d be able to get these apples himself but thought Atlas would have a better chance since he was related to half the security detail. Hercules offered to take Atlas’ place holding up the world if he would get these golden apples for him. When Atlas came back with the apples Hercules was overjoyed and said he’s happy doing this Earth supporting thing for all eternity but before he goes could Atlas just hold the world for a second while he adjusted his robe to make it sit better on his shoulders? As soon as Atlas had hold of the world Hercules ran off with the apples as fast as he could shouting ‘sucker!’ over his shoulder.

Do come back throughout the month and beyond for more art and maybe more stories.

world watercolour month july 2016

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