This sculpture is a bronze reproduction of one of the most famous works from antiquity, the so-called Toro Farnese, a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original from the 2nd century BC, now at the Archaeological Museum of Naples. The monumental work, sculpted from a single block of marble, features Dirce being tormented by Zethus and Amphion, who has tied her to a furious bull in order to revenge the maltreatment of their mother Antiope. The latter is shown standing, witnessing the scene, as the figure of a seated shepherd who is on the contrary supposed to personify Mount Cytheron, the scene of the myth. The rediscovery of the great sculpture group, which was unearthed at the Caracalla Baths in 1545, became a great sensation and the work was reproduced several times, also thanks to the diffusion of its image by means of prints, as for instance the one by Diana Mantovana from 1581. The bronze we are presenting is a very sophisticated reproduction of the antique work; notice for instance the way the bodies of the protagonists are accentuated by the more accurate finish as compared to the more opaque parts.
Rome or Naples, 19th century
cm 67 height