Hercules And Deianira Analysis

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Title The painting “Hercules and Deianira” by Antonio del Pollaiuolo depicts a myth from classical antiquity, of the centaur Nessus abducting the maiden Deianira from her lover, Hercules, who pursues and kills the man-beast. According to legend, the centaur would pull one more trick before his death, convincing Deianira that his blood could be used as a love tonic; when she gives Hercules a robe soaked in the blood potion, he dies in a fit of agony, revealing the centaur’s wicked hoax. The artist chooses for the moment of depiction an instant of pursuit, as Hercules realizes his folly and gives chase to the abductor, bow in hand. “Hercules and Deianira” is massively successful at translating the emotional character of the scene, a moment wrought with anger and anguish, into a visual…show more content…
The lightness of the background, depicted with pale blues, greens, and whites, juxtaposes with the brown and reds of the nearby earth. We find in the figures a similar array of shade and color; the centaur Nessus is the darkest, with his horse-half almost blending in with the clay, while Hercules and Deianira are also painted with beige and tan tones found in the surrounding landscape. The centaur’s tail and Deianira’s hair seem to almost blend directly into the background, and while the woman’s light complexion creates a sharp chiaroscuro that detaches her from her immediate surroundings, highlighting the unnaturalness of the situation, she becomes tonally united with the pure freedom of the background and of Hercules. Del Pollaiuolo uses color and tone to accentuate her true place in the vast openness. Furthermore, the figures are all depicted as nude or near-nude. Thus they are shown as essentially natural beings, at home in their surroundings; Deianira’s transparent wrap mirrors the flowing river beneath her, while Hercules’ animal skin garment both comes from the land and echoes it

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