The bronze group offered here is a reduced copy of the colossal Farnese Bull, today in the Museo Nazionale, Naples. Also known as the Fable of Dirce, the group was excavated in the Baths of Caracalla in 1545 and was moved to the Palazzo Farnese immediately after. In the 1550s the group was restored at the suggestion of Michelangelo and placed in the palace courtyard to serve as a fountain. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the group was praised enthusiastically by the most sophisticated connoisseurs, including Louis XIV who tried unsuccessfully to purchase it in 1662. Of continued popularity, bronze reductions were produced through to the 19th century and the present lot is a particularly well-cast example.