In the late 1500s, Italian artist Giovanni Caccini completed his recreation of the Ercole e Nesso (Heracles and Nessus) statue. The artwork depicts the strong man of Greek mythology overpowering the centaur, not long before Heracles himself died from Nessus’ tainted blood.
Caccini’s statue was recreated from a possibly Roman certainly antique original, of which there remained just the feet. Although Caccini managed to recreate the statue from such a small starting point, scholars believe his recreation to be remarkably accurate.
This great work of art has recently been restored by the Friends of Uffizi Gallery group and can be seen in its home of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where it welcomes visitors into one of Florence’s top museums.
The story behind the statue of Heracles and Nessus sees Heracles’ wife Deianeira being aided by Nessus to cross a river. Once on the banks, Nessus makes a move on Heracles’ lady. Heracles, seeing this pass from the opposite bank, fatally wounds Nessus with a poison arrow. His dying words are to Deianeira, telling him that his blood would make Heracles forever hers.
Not seeing the act of malice for what it was, she coats Nesso’s blood on Heracles’ robe which, once he adorned it, burned the Greek mythology hero to death. At this point, Heracles was taken to Mount Olympus where Zeus made him a god in thanks for his heroics.