Go to content Go to navigation Go to search Change language

Home>Collection & Louvre Palace>Curatorial Departments>The Abduction of Deianira

Work The Abduction of Deianira

Department of Decorative Arts: 17th century

Nessus Abducting Deianira

© 1999 RMN / Martine Beck-Coppola

Decorative Arts
17th century

Baratte Sophie

This group portrays the abduction of Deianira, wife of Hercules, by the centaur Nessus. The great Mannerist sculptor Giambologna, who dominated Florentine sculpture in the second half of the sixteenth century, made a model of this small bronze for distribution by his studio. In the seventeenth century, Pietro Tacca, the Grand Duke of Tuscany's favorite sculptor, used the composition as a basis for this enlarged version.


This royal bronze is attributed to Pietro Tacca through comparison with his small equestrian statue of Charles-Emmanuel of Savoy, signed and dated 1619-20 and now in Kassel, Germany. Together with Giambologna's disciple Antonio Susini, Tacca was charged with casting the master's creations in the sculptor's studio. When Giambologna died, Tacca became the Medici family's sculptor.
Here Giambologna's composition has been reversed and doubled in size. One must distinguish between the clay model-the first stage in the creation of a large sculpture-and the statuette that put a piece by a sculptor into circulation. Giambologna used small bronzes cast in his studio to make his work known. Once a work was completed, copies-modified or simply cast from a working mold-could be made.



Louis of France (1661-1711), the Grand Dauphin, was the eldest son of Louis XIV. Like his father, he was obliged by reasons of rank to own a collection of small bronzes; Louis XIV helped by giving him a number of statuettes in 1681. At the Grand Dauphin's death, these bronzes were incorporated into the royal collection by Louis XIV, while the rest of the estate was divided among the dauphin's three sons. Transferred for decoration of the imperial palaces in 1807, this work vanished from the national collections until it was donated to the Louvre in 1949.

The royal bronzes

In the manner of the Italian Renaissance princes, Louis XIV had to own a collection of bronze statuettes as proof of his interest in the humanist achievements of the Renaissance. Thus a collection was built up from purchases and, later, gifts. The last in a series of inventories is dated 1691.

Technical description

  • Attributed to Pietro TACCA (1577 - 1640)

    Nessus Abducting Deianira

    Early 17th century


  • Bronze

    H. 85 cm

  • Gift of Louis XIV to the Grand Dauphin in 1681; gift of L. Guiraud, 1949 , 1949

    OA 9480

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Rotonde Jean Boulogne
    Room 26

Practical information

The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays
Closed on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, May 8, December 25
Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris - France
Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7)
Tel.: +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17

Buy tickets

Additional information about the work

Engraved inscription on right side of centaur's croup: [Crown bronze] No. 305