Rare bronze sculpture representing the kidnapping of Dejanire by the centaur Nessus.
The subject of our bronze is inspired by book No. IX of Ovid's Metamorphoses, at the moment when to cross a river, Hercules entrusts Deianira to the centaur Nessus who, seduced by the beauty of the young woman, takes the opportunity to kidnap her.
The scene is taken from life and represents the kidnapping, with the rearing centaur tearing Deianira from the ground.
He literally carries Dejanire's body under his right arm.
Very surprised and unbalanced, she waves her arms in the air and looks at the ground in terror while half of her body hangs in the air.
Beautiful state of conservation.
High quality casting and carving.
Very beautiful translucent brown medal-type patina which reveals a golden background.
Rectangular base in blackened wood.
French school from the second part of the 18th century.
Bronze: Height: 39.5 cm; Width: 36 cm
Base: Height: 17 cm; Width: 24.5 cm
Height: Total: 56.5 cm
Our bronze is a variant created by Antonio Susini (called type B by the artist's specialists) of a bronze by John of Bologna.
On this model Dejanire is no longer seated on the centaur's back but carried by him on the side.
An original copy attributed to Susini is kept at the Louvre Museum (Inv. number OA 9520)
It bears number 175 in the inventory of crown bronzes and comes from a donation made by André le Nôtre to King Louis XIV.
It is probably this example which served as the master model for French fonts of the 17th and 18th century.
The museum also keeps one of these fonts made in France in the 17th century under the inventory number: OA 3891.
A version of this type B model was present in the collection of Cardinal Richelieu at the time of his death in 1643 and another in the collection of the sculptor François Girardon in 1710.
-The bronzes of the crown, catalog of the exhibition at the Musée du Louvre Paris, from April 12 to July 12, 1999.
- Charles Avery and Anthony Radcliff, "Giambologna 1529-1608: Sculptor to the Medici"
Our opinion :
Jean Bologna designed his prototype of the Centaur Nessus kidnapping Deianira around 1576, which is attested by a bronze today kept at the Colonna gallery in Rome.
It is his flagship work and we can even say without fear that it is one of the masterpieces of European Renaissance sculpture.
Contortion, tragedy, fear, power but also delicacy perfectly characterize this bronze which marked an entire generation of artists.
We find inspirations from this work over the centuries; notably in the sculptures of many artists, such as for example in Bernini's The Abduction of Prosperina.
The model will be appreciated throughout Europe thanks to its diffusion through “small bronzes” of which Antonio Susini, student and son-in-law of John of Bologna, had made a specialty.
He will also reinterpret the work himself by proposing a variant (type B) where Déjanire is no longer seated on the centaur but carried in his arms.
This composition corresponds to the model that we are presenting and was also a great success, so much so that Jean De Bologne himself bought a copy.
The subject must have greatly pleased King Louis XIV, since in 1693 he already had two kidnappings.
Le Grand Dauphin and Le Nôtre also held similar bronzes from the same period.
At the turn of the century the royal collections included no less than seven copies, several original versions by John of Bologna, but also versions by Susini and even that of Pietro Tacca.
Some French workshops produced very beautiful casts of these models throughout the 17th and 18th century in order to satisfy a financial elite wishing to copy the king.
The workshops which cast these bronzes are not precisely known to us but we do know that the marketing of these pieces was the work of large haberdashery merchants such as Edme-François Gersaint (1694-1750) and Thomas-Joachim Hébert (1687- 1773).
The quality of the fonts and carvings were often highlighted in their sales catalogs.
The fairly substantial prices (more than 500 pounds) were mainly intended for a financial elite such as the king's secretary Louis Jean Gaignat or even the lover of small pleasures Angrand de Fonspertuis.
Our bronze is a very fine example of this French production; the cast iron and translucent patina demonstrate the excellence acquired by French bronze workers in the 18th century.