Leda and the Swan

Object Details

Title:

Leda and the Swan

Artist/Maker(s):

Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (Italian, 1656 - 1740)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

designed before 1717; cast about 1725

Medium:

Bronze on grey-green marble bases with bronze mounts

Dimensions:

62.5 cm (24 5/8 in.)

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Andromeda & Leda

Enamored of the beautiful Leda, the god Jupiter seduced her in the form of a swan. In this bronze version of the mythological scene, Leda and the swan are suggestively posed: the arc of the lovers' embracing arms and wings and the curvature of their bodies, poised before union, increases the erotic suspense. The swath of drapery trapped between Leda's thighs, as well as her movement drawing the swan down towards her, hint at the inevitable moment of union.

This tale of seduction, mentioned in Ovid's Metamorphoses, was a popular subject for artists from the Renaissance onwards. An unusual aspect of this version, however, is that Castor and Pollux, the fruit of the union, are not shown. Instead, the artist included Cupid, the god of love. Perched on his wings, Cupid encourages the amorous Jupiter.

The contrasting textures of Leda's smooth voluptuous skin and the swan's feathers hint at Massimiliano Soldani Benzi's technical virtuosity with bronze casting. He made this Ledaas a pendant to another bronze group, Andromeda and the Sea Monster.

Related Works
Provenance
1725 - still in 1767

Possibly Senator Francesco Giovacchino Buondelmonti, 1689 - 1774 (Florence)

- 1964

Julius Goldschmidt (London, England), sold to Gerald Burdon, June 1964.

1964 - 1997

Gerald Burdon (Onslow Square, London, England), sold through Joanna Barnes Fine Arts, London to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997.

Exhibitions
Il Trionfo delle Bell'Arti (1767) (p. 13.)
  • SS. Annunziata, (Florence), 1767
The Twilight of the Medici: Late Baroque Art in Florence, 1670 - 1743 (1974) (pp. 108-109, no. 71.)
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts, (Detroit), March 27 to June 2, 1974
  • Palazzo Pitti, (Florence), June 28 to September 30, 1974
Princely Patrons and Enlightened Entrepreneurs (November 6, 2005 to April 1, 2006) (305)
  • Liechtenstein Museum, (Vienna), November 6, 2005 to January 29, 2006
Bibliography

The Twilight of the Medici: Late Baroque Art in Florence, 1670-1743 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1974) pp. 108-9, no. 71, ill.

Gli Ultimi Medici: Il tardo barocco a Firenze, 1670-1743 (Florence: Centro Di, 1974) pp. 108-9, no. 71, ill.

Roethlisberger, Marcel G. "Le thème de Léda en sculpture." Genava 35 (1987) p. 75, fig. 18; p. 89, n. 21.

Pratesi, Giovanni, ed. Repertorio della scultura fiorentina del seicento e settecento (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 1993) p. 101.

Avery, Charles. "The Pedestals, Frames, Mounts and Presentation of Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi's Bronze Statuettes and Reliefs." Furniture History 31 (1995) p. 9; pp. 20-21, nn. 13-14.

Lankheit, Klaus. "Massimiliano Soldani (Benzi)." In The Dictionary of Art. Jane Turner, ed. Vol. 29 (London: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 1996) p. 30.