This bronze cast Applique in the shape of the Bust of Herakles is slightly hollow in the lower part. Given its semicircular outline, it is thought to have been part of a bed decoration (fulcrum). Fulcrum is the Latin name for the decorations in the round that were attached to the sides of the wooden backs of the klinaï (banqueting bed) in the Hellenistic and Roman period; they are most often made of metal (bronze), more rarely of ivory or stone.
The applique depicts the bust of the most represented and famous hero of Classical mythology, Heracles (or Hercules for the Romans). It is composed of two elements treated differently: the chest and the shoulders are simply rendered in relief, while the head is a three-dimensional, carved sculpture.
The hero resolutely turns his head to the left and seems to look in the distance; his long torso is seen frontally and delineated by a fabric (or it could be his lion’s skin). Following a common typology, Heracles has a thick beard made of large curly locks, while his flat, short hair is rendered with small incised locks. A crown of vine leaves and grapes, recalling the relationship Heracles held with his half-brother Dionysos, adorns his forehead. Other ancient images show the link between the hero and the world of wine, such as the Heracles Epitrapezios (a statuette that would have been created by Lysippos to decorate the table of Alexander the Great) or the so-called type of the Heracles Bibax (with a kantharos or drinking vessel, a crown of vine leaves encircling his head).
Because of the damaged surface, it is not possible to date the work precisely, but one can easily imagine the original artistic quality of the piece (plasticity of the muscles of the torso and neck, the richly detailed beard and crown, etc. .).