NESSUS AND DEIANEIRA
bronze, on an ebonised wood base
height of bronze: 20.2cm., 8in.; base: 7 by 17cm., 2¾ by 6¾in.
Cast in Florence, 17th or 18th century.
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Overall the condition of the bronze is good, with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. There is minor wear to the lacquer patina, including rubbing at the high points, leading to attractive highlights in the colouring. There is some small residue to the proper right side of the centaur’s haunches. The woman’s fingers are slightly warped. A few very minor nicks and scratches, including to the woman’s legs. The bronze rocks very slightly on the wood base
Minor general wear to the wood base.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Caiati & Gallo, Milan, 2015
First modelled in 1575-1576, Nessus and Deianeira proved to be one of Giambologna's most successful compositions. Hercules’ wife, Deianeira, was seized by the Centaur Nessus while crossing a river, and subsequently rescued by her hero-husband, who slew the Centaur. Greek myth tells of the poignant consequences of the event, when Deianeira used Nessus’ blood as a love potion on her unfaithful husband, unaware that the poison within would destroy his mortal form. Giambologna created at least three signed bronze versions of the model, indicating the high esteem in which it was held by both the artist and his patrons. His radically complex composition, with two intertwined figures full of dynamism and balanced tension, explains its long lasting popularity.
The present bronze diverges from Giambologna's variants of the model in the positioning of Deianeira's arms, as well as stylistic details. A number of similar casts of this variant are known, including one sold at Sotheby's on 4 July 1991 (lot 113), and another sold at Christie's London on 12 June 2003 (lot 1123). Interestingly, Lankheit (op. cit.) illustrates a wax model of the present composition produced for the Doccia manufactory, which was established in 1737 by Marchese Carlo Ginori and employed sculptors such as Massimiliano Soldani Benzi and Giovanni Battista Foggini as modellers. The fine quality of its finishing, and the reddish colour of the patina, indicate a Florentine origin for the present bronze.
Charles Avery and Anthony Radcliffe (eds.), Giambologna 1529-1608. Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat. Arts Council of Britain and Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, London, 1978, pp. 109-117; Klaus Lankheit, Die Modellsammlung der Porzellanmanufaktur Doccia, Munich, 1982, p. 122 and pl. 157