Pluto Abducting Proserpine

Object Details


Pluto Abducting Proserpine


After model by François Girardon (French, 1628 - 1715)




Paris, France (Place created)


probably cast in late 18th century




56.5 x 26.4 x 26 cm (22 1/4 x 10 3/8 x 10 1/4 in.)

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Pluto, god of the Underworld, seizes Proserpine, daughter of the agricultural goddess Ceres; one of her servants, fallen to the ground, tries unsuccessfully to stop him. According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Pluto was watching Proserpine pick flowers in a meadow when he was struck by one of Cupid's arrows. Pluto carried Proserpine down to his kingdom on a chariot drawn by black horses. According to Greek mythology, Pluto allowed Proserpine to return to earth each spring for four months, thus explaining the change of the seasons.

This bronze is a copy after a larger preparatory model, also in the Museum's collection, by Louis XIV's preeminent sculptor, François Girardon. Louis XIV commissioned Girardon to create one of four monumental marble groups intended to decorate the corners of Charles Le Brun's never-completed garden at Versailles, the Parterre d'Eau. Each group of three figures symbolized one of the four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. Pluto's association with Hell made him an apt symbol of fire.

French Paintings & Sculptures of the 17th Century (Part 1) (June 12 to August 15, 1968)
  • Heim Gallery (London), June 12 to August 15, 1968
Taking Shape: Finding Sculpture in the Decorative Arts (October 2, 2008 to July 5, 2009) (6)
  • 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
Paris: Life & Luxury (April 26, 2011 to January 2, 2012) (6)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 26 to August 7, 2011
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 18, 2011 to January 2, 2012