These bronze groups, each representing a complex multi-figure composition, are derived from different sources but have been put together to create a new, and highly decorative, pair.
After being struck by Cupid's arrow, Pluto, the god of the dead and the Underworld, abducted Proserpina, the daughter of Ceres and the goddess of harvest and fertility. After desperately pleeing to Jupiter, Pluto's brother, Ceres convinced the former to allow Proserpina to return to earth for one half of the year and then spend the other half in the Underworld with her husband. It is, therefore, from this legend that the ancient ideology of the season was born. This theme was adopted by some of the greatest artists of their times, and Francois Girardon, was one of the greatest active in France during the reign of Louis XIV. His Abduction of Proserpina was originally conceived as a marble as part of a commission of four marble groups by different artists for the first Parterre d'Eau at Versailles (Souchal, 1981, op. cit., p. 42). The Girardon group is dated 1699.
The ancient Sabines were a tribe of people that inhabited Latium long before the foundation of Rome. The ancient myth recalls how Roman soldiers abducted the Sabine women in order to populate their new home, Rome. The conflict ended by the women throwing themselves and their children between the armies of their fathers and their husbands. The theme was most successfully adopted by Giambologna whose Rape of a Sabine Woman is considered to be his greatest achievement in marble. It was unveiled in the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, on 14 January, 1583 (Avery, op. cit., p. 109).
This pair of bronzes obviously post-dates Girardon's marble of 1699, but in terms of its facture and finish it is datable to the early years of the 18th century. A number of 18th and 19th century versions of this pairing, albeit of differing heights, have previously been offered for sale - for precise dates see Souchal, 1993, op. cit., p. 104.
A similar pair of bronzes after Giambologna and Gaspar Marsy, was sold at Sotheby's, London, lot 75, 223,500.