The Abduction of Dejanira by Nessus (Primary Title)

Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577 - 1640 (Artist)

Oil on panel
Unframed: 7 3/8 x 5 1/2 in. Framed: 15 x 13 3/4 x 2 1/2 in.
This myth begins as Hercules and Dejanira, his newly wedded wife, encounter a turbulent river that they must cross. Nessus, a centaur who lives nearby, offers to carry Dejanira on his strong back while Hercules swims across. As Hercules reaches the far shore, he hears Dejanira begging for rescue. In this oil sketch, Nessus, in keeping with the lustful reputation of centaurs, is attempting to kidnap the young bride, who turns to look at him with a startled expression. Soon after, a poisoned arrow flies from Hercules’s bow, killing the centaur and preserving his wife’s virtue. Beginning with myths, epics, and images in ancient Greece, centaurs have frequently symbolized the uncontrolled passion and treachery of barbarians in contrast to the civilized behavior of enlightened humans.
The Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Collection

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