The J. Paul Getty Museum

Pluto Abducting Proserpine

Object Details


Pluto Abducting Proserpine


François Girardon (French, 1628 - 1715)




Paris, France (Place Created)


cast about 1693–1710



Object Number:



106.5 × 45 × 51 cm (41 15/16 × 17 11/16 × 20 1/16 in.)

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Object Description

Pluto, represented as a mature man, attempts to abduct the nubile Proserpine, while a maid below struggles to assist her. The three nude figures join together with drapery in a spiral from which Proserpine gracefully extends her arms, reaching out and up in resistance. In contrast to the figures' animated gestures, their faces are relatively expressionless. François Girardon's large bronze of Pluto Abducting Proserpine represents the violent abduction of Zeus and Demeter's young daughter by the god of the underworld. This event explained the change of the seasons in Greek mythology: in response to Demeter's grief at the loss of her daughter, Zeus and Pluto agreed that Proserpine, who represented Spring, would spend six months of the year above ground with her mother and the remaining six underground with Pluto, thus causing winter.

Louis XIV commissioned four monumental marble abduction groups to decorate the corners of Charles LeBrun's never-completed garden at Versailles, the Parterre d'Eau. This bronze is a version of Girardon's preparatory model for one of these statues. Each group of three figures symbolized one of the four elements: earth, air, wind, and fire. Pluto's association with hell made him an apt symbol of fire.

L'Art Francais (1888)
  • Paris (France : Généralité), 1888
Taking Shape: Finding Sculpture in the Decorative Arts (October 2, 2008 to July 5, 2009)
  • Henry Moore Institute (Leeds), October 2, 2008 to January 4, 2009
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 31 to July 5, 2009
Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution (October 24, 2008 to September 27, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 30 to September 27, 2009
Louis XIV at the Getty (June 9, 2015 to July 31, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 9, 2015 to July 31, 2016
Education Resources
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