European Art
Artist: Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Italian, ca. 1432–1498

Hercules and Deianira

ca. 1475–80

Oil on panel transferred to canvas

unframed: 54.6 × 79.2 cm (21 1/2 × 31 3/16 in.)
University Purchase from James Jackson Jarves
When the centaur Nessus abducted Deianira, her lover, Hercules, shot him with a poisoned arrow. The dying centaur convinced Deianira that his blood would make a powerful love potion and Deianira sent Hercules a cloak soaked in Nessus’s blood. Putting it on, Hercules was poisoned and died. Deianira then took her own life in remorse. This portrayal of the legend, one of the most famous Renaissance paintings in any American collection, is universally admired for Antonio del Pollaiuolo’s accomplishment in rendering the human body in dramatic action. Equally imposing if less widely acknowledged is the sophistication of its panoramic landscape background depicting Florence and the Arno Valley.
Made in Florence, Italy
On view
Italian, Florence
15th century

James Jackson Jarves Collection, Florence, to 1871; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 48–49, fig. 40.

Laurence Kanter and Ian McClure, “Yale’s Garofalo: Conversion and Transfer,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2010): 72–73, fig. 7.

Clay M. Dean, A Selection of Early Italian Paintings from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2003), 34–35, no. 10.

Mrs. Francis Steegmuller, The Two Lives of James Jackson Jarves (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1951), 301, fig. 15.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972), 599.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Catalogue of the Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Cleveland Museum of Art: The Official Art Exhibit of the Great Lakes Exposition, exh. cat. (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1936), 61–62;, no. 144, fig. pl. XVII.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.