centaur with upper torso bent back, arms up fighting a man on his back whose proper right arm upraised to strike on rocky self-base; man; mythology
With a spiraling tangle of limbs, Barye depicts an epic struggle between the Greek king Theseus and the centaur Bienor. Borrowing from a climactic moment in Ovid's "Metamorphoses", after Bienor and his fellow centaurs have rampaged through a wedding feast and attempted to carry off the bride, the sculpture pits rationality against raw passion. Theseus's face is a study in calm in contrast to Bienor's agonized expression. Precariously balanced on a rocky mount, their twisting, muscular forms embody the drama and often the violence that characterized French art of the Romantic period.
Antoine Barye was a major sculptor of his day, specializing in animal subjects. He often sketched animals at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris with his friend, painter Eugène Delacroix. Barry's works were sold in editions of varying size, including smaller versions such as this one. This practice made Barye's sculptures available to a wider audience.
men; mythology; wars; deaths; animals
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