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.

Medium

Oil on panel transferred to canvas

Dimensions

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

Credit Line

University Purchase from James Jackson Jarves

Accession Number

1871.42

Period

15th century

Classification
Disclaimer

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.

Provenance

Provenance

James Jackson Jarves Collection, Florence, to 1871; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
Bibliography
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983).
  • 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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