The Abduction of Proserpine
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Alessandro Allori
Italian, Florence, 1570
Oil on panel
90 x 137 in.

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Pluto, god of the Underworld, seizes Proserpine, daughter of the corn-goddess Ceres, ready to carry her down to his kingdom on a chariot drawn by black horses. Because Pluto allowed Proserpine to return to earth each spring for four months, the story recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses symbolized seasonal death and rebirth.

Yet, even this dire subject takes place in an enchanted setting. Characteristically, Alessandro Allori added playful touches: slender, graceful nymphs, possibly Proserpine's former companions, pick flowers and frolic while being observed by satyrs. The abrupt truncation of Pluto's chariot and horses at the bottom of the panel and the bright, saturated colors display frequent characteristics of Florentine Mannerism. Allori's complicated, twisted poses and his cool, smooth style reflect the influence of his adopted father and master Bronzino.

Allori painted this panel, along with many others, as decoration for the Villa Salviati, a private home near Florence.

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