The present group of The Rape of a Sabine is demonstrative of an interesting evolutionary step in Giambologna's iconography and methodology. The concept was first born out of the artist's Mercury abducting a Woman group. From this two-figure group - eventually also known as The Rape of a Sabine - the artist discovered that the weakest point, structurally, was at the ankles and, therefore, to reproduce it on a larger scale in marble or bronze a modification would be required. This came in the form of a third figure, a Sabine man, who reinforced the composition from the base. While the figure offered structural stability, it also gave Giambologna the opportunity to demonstrate his skills in composition, and the result was a group that could be viewed intelligibly from virtually every angle and that was astonishing in its use of complex spiralling and interweaving forms.
The success of this model led Giambologna to create, between 1581 and 1583, the colossal marble group of the The Rape of a Sabine in the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence. This group was universally celebrated and, as a result, reductions were requested from patrons all across Europe. It is, therefore, from this productive output that the present lot probably derives. With drawings and engravings of the original circulating freely throughout the continent, reproductions were known to have been created in all media in France, Flanders, Germany and Italy.