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Leda and the Swan
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Massimiliano Soldani Benzi
Italian, 1710 - 1716
Bronze on gray-green marble base with bronze mounts
H: 24 5/8 in.
97.SB.61.2

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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 Leda as a pendant to another bronze group, Andromeda and the Sea Monster.


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