The J. Paul Getty Museum

Centaur and Lapith

Object Details


Centaur and Lapith


Francesco Primaticcio (Italian, 1504 - 1570)




Italy (Place Created)


about 1540


Red chalk

Object Number:



21.7 × 27.8 cm (8 9/16 × 10 15/16 in.)

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Object Description

Given the ornamental character of this drawing and the scene's relative lack of movement, court artist Francesco Primaticcio probably made it as a preparatory study for costume designs for a festival. The color notes that he included also support the idea of a costume design, since the assistants in his workshop would have needed such notes to faithfully re-create his design in fabric. Several of his other costume designs include elaborately decorated helmets such as the one this centaur wears. Primaticcio probably depicted only one element in a larger composition celebrating the popular story of the neighboring tribes of the centaurs and the Lapiths. According to classical mythology, the Lapiths invited the centaurs to their king's wedding, but the centaurs responded by carrying off the Lapith women-even the bride-under the influence of wine. The battle that ensued ended with the centaurs' defeat and expulsion from the Lapiths' country.

The Power of Myth: European Mythological Drawings of the 15th through the 19th Century (October 12 to December 26, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 12 to December 26, 1993
Primaticcio, Master of Fontainebleau (September 20, 2004 to January 3, 2005) (Catalogue by D. Cordellier et. al.)
  • Musée du Louvre (Paris), September 20, 2004 to January 3, 2005
Drawing the Classical Figure (December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009
Disegno: Drawing in Europe 1520-1600 (November 13, 2012 to February 3, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 13, 2012 to February 3, 2013