Hercules Slaying a Centaur

Antonio Susini (Florence 1558–1624 Florence)
Hercules Slaying a Centaur
After a model by Giambologna, cast ca. 1600–1610
Bronze
15 3/4 in. (40.2 cm)

 

Rotating his body like a fulcrum, Hercules pins down the centaur while swinging his club. The centaur’s forelegs collapse as he struggles against the killing blow. Dramatic force builds when the sculpture is viewed in the round, culminating in the contrast between the hero’s concentration and the centaur’s scream.

Giambologna created this model for a large-scale marble sculpture (Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence) commissioned by Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici. A silver version (now lost), of similar size to this statuette, was displayed in the ducal state offices. Giambologna’s principal assistant, the goldsmith Antonio Susini, popularized the composition in bronze casts.