The marble group of Hercules and the Centaur Nessus, was completed in 1599 by Flemish sculptor Giambologna, born Jean Boulogne (1529-1608). The sculpture was carved, impressively, from a single block of marble by Giambologna and it sits in the open-air gallery Loggia dei Lanzi on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, among the square's other famous marble occupants.
Showing an advanced understanding of anatomy - visible in Hercules' rib cage, showing through his taut skin and the veined legs of the centaur, poised in battle - Giambologna's statue is a powerful evocation of the strength of mortal man.
Greatly influenced by Michelangelo, but an expert in his own Mannerist style, Giambologna's stone carvings exhibit a focus on beauty rather than emotion. Under the influence of Georgio Vasari, Giambologna became one of the Medici's most important court sculptors. Fearing he could be enticed into full-time employment by the Spanish or Austrian Habsburgs he was interred in a chapel of his own design in the Santissima Annuniziata - a Basilica in Florence.
In Greek mythology, it is the robe of Nessus, poisoned with the slain centaur's blood that kills Hercules after his wife gives it to him, burning Hercules and compelling him to throw himself on a funeral pyre. Metaphorically the 'Robe of Nessus' represents a source of inescapable misfortune and features in the works of Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot and Alexandre Dumas.
This object is part of "Scan The World". Scan the World is a non-profit initiative introduced by MyMiniFactory, through which we are creating a digital archive of fully 3D printable sculptures, artworks and landmarks from across the globe for the public to access for free. Scan the World is an open source, community effort, if you have interesting items around you and would like to contribute, email [email protected] to find out how you can help.