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Statuette - The Rape of the Sabines

The Rape of the Sabines

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Rome (made)

  • Date:

    second quarter 17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 117, case 5

This bronze group is made by an unknown sculptor in Rome in the second quarter of the 17th century. It was formerly ascribed to Francesco Bertos and Venice.
The Rape of the Sabines is a legend in the early history of Rome. According to that Romulus, the founder of the city, used a trick to secure the future population of Rome. He organised a festival where the neighbouring inhabitants were invited, including the Sabines along with their wives and children. At a certain signal Rome's young men went into the crowd and carried away the unmarried wives. Plutarch has described to this legend the origin of the custom of lifting up a bride and carrying her over the doorstep of her husband's house.

Physical description

The group rises from an irregular oval base. The central feature is a warrior in classical armour with a spear in his right hand who rides a rearing horse, holding a woman with arms outstretched. On the opposite side a kneeling warrior raises a fainting female figure from the ground. Behind is a standing warrior with one knee on the fallen horse and the left hand on the thigh of the mounted figure, an old woman with arms outstretched, and a child clutching her skirt. On the base quiver, scabbard, sword and other weapons, and a shield with coat-of-arms.

Place of Origin

Rome (made)


second quarter 17th century (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 49.5 cm

Object history note

Given by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F. S. A., 1951.
The arms are identified as those of Duke of Sanesio, about 1620-1625.

Descriptive line

Statuette, bronze, the Rape of the Sabines, Italian (Rome), second quarter of the 17th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Montagu, Jennifer, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Metal Sculpture of the Roman Baroque, Yale University Press 1996, pp. 32-5, note 74, figs. 52-4
Montagu, Jennifer, 'Roman Bronzes around 1600', in: Krahn, Volker (ed.), Von allen Seiten Schön. Rückblicke auf Ausstellung und Kolloquium. Band I. Dokumentation zu Ausstellung und Kolloquium, Cologne, 1996, pp. 69-77, pp. 74-76, figs. 17 & 18
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume II: Text. Sixteenth to Twentieth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, p. 663
Viancini, Ettore, 'Per Francesco Bertos', in: Saggi e Memorie di Storia dell'Arte, 19, 1994, p. 143

Production Note

formerly ascribed to Francesco Bertos and Venice



Subjects depicted

Horse; Woman; Coat-of-arms; Warrior


Bronze; Myths & Legends; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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