Hercules and Deianira Artist: Antonio del Pollaiuolo (Italian, ca. 1432–1498)

ca. 1475–80

European Art

On view, 2nd floor, European Art

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.


Oil on panel transferred to canvas


unframed: 21 1/2 × 31 3/16 in. (54.6 × 79.2 cm)

Credit Line

University Purchase from James Jackson Jarves

Accession Number



15th century


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 records is ongoing.



James Jackson Jarves Collection, Florence, to 1871; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Laurence Kanter and Ian McClure, "Yale's Garofalo: Conversion and Transfer," in "Time Will Tell: Ethics and Choices in Conservation," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2010), 72–73, fig. 7
  • 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
  • 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
  • Mrs. Francis Steegmuller, The Two Lives of James Jackson Jarves (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1951), 301, fig. 15
  • 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
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

legends (literary genre), mythology

Technical metadata and APIs


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