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Galerie J. Kugel, Paris.
Déjanire est la femme d'Hercule. Le centaure Nessus l'aide un jour à traverser un fleuve mais alors qu'il tente de l'enlever, Hercule le blesse mortellement d'une flèche empoisonnée du sang de l'Hydre de Lerne. Le centaure, perfide, persuade Déjanire de recueillir son sang et de s'en servir comme philtre d'amour si Hercule venait à la trahir. Un jour, convaincue de l'infidélité de son époux, elle imprègne une tunique de quelques gouttes du sang du centaure et la fait porter à son époux qui, à son tour empoisonné, devient fou de douleur et se jette dans les flammes.
Deianeira, wife of Hercules, was kidnapped by the centaur Nessus as he helped her cross a river. However, as Hercules wounded him mortally with a poisoned arrow, Nessus convinced Deianeira to take some of his magical blood, which would help her to retain her husband's love. Later Deianeira suspecting Hercules's unfaithfulness, dipped his clothes in the blood. As he dressed himself, he suffered unbearable pain which caused him to leap into a fire.
Post Lot Text
A GERMAN PARCEL-GILT GROUP OF NESSUS AND DEIANEIRA,
ATTRIBUTED TO ANDREAS I WICKERT, AUGSBURG, CIRCA 1630-1635, UNMARKED
After a model by Giambologna, the rearing figure of Nessus with head turned, the loosely draped figure of Deianeira lying on the centaur's back with arms outstretched, on later ebonized plinth
This group is virtually identical to a group in the Louvre, which also lacks its original, presumably hallmarked, base. Both these models can be firmly attributed to Andreas Wickert, Snr. by comparison with the hallmarked example in the Armoury Museum, the Kremlin, Moscow, although the pose of Deianiera differs in the latter model (H. Seling Die Kunst der Augsburger Goldschmiede 1529-1868, Munich, 1980, vol. 2, fig. 484)
Andreas I Wickert, master from 1629 to 1661, was an extremely talented maker whose work displays a very strong sense of movement and a gift for scultpure.
Giambologna was one the leading figures of the Mannerist movement of the 16th century, which broke away from the traditional characteristics of the Renaissance. Artists started using new plastic techniques as well as themes more in keeping with this new style. Giambologna exploited the tension between these figures to maximum effect and Nessus and Deianeira became one of the most successful subjects he modelled. It was reproduced not only in his workshop, among others, his principle assistant Antonio Susini, but also in those of his contemporaries, spreading in popularity throughout Europe. Two examples thus appeared in the collection of the Elector Christian I of Saxony in 1587 and that of the Emperor Rudolph II in Prague, and they undoubtely influenced German artists.