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Pio Fedi ~ The Rape of Polyxena, 1865 | Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence

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Author ✍️ at 9/12/2015 03:29:00 PM

The Rape of Polyxena is a marble statue located in the Loggia dei Lanzi, the  open-air museum in Florence, Italy’s Piazza della Signoria.
It was sculpted in 1868 by Italian sculptor who worked chiefly in the Romantic style, Pio Fedi (1815-1892), but it was placed alongside several sculptures from the Renaissance. The Rape of Polyxena embodies Hellenistic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassicist mannerisms regarding its style and theme. Fedi intricately blended multiple styles and stories in order to construct The Rape of Polyxena. The most prominent literary sources of the Greek legend concerning Polyxena are Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Euripides’ Hecuba and Bocaccio’s Famous Women. This project discusses the various sources of the scene presented and the different sculptures that may have inspired Fedi to create his work.

Polyxena was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Achilles fell in love and wished to marry her. One story relates that she helped set up his murder and another tells that he died in battle.
Achilles ghost demanded Polyxena's sacrifice on his tomb. This sculpture shows the Greeks seizing her.
The modern group, with its four large figures, was produced out of a single block of marble, and, until the work was executed, the sculptor was exceedingly poor and comparatively unknown, but this achievement lifted him at once out of poverty and obscurity. This remarkable work was purchased by the city of Florence on condition that the artist would not reproduce the subject, and it was placed here in the Loggia with the works of some of the greatest of Italian sculptors. It represents a mythological subject, the forcible abduction of Polyxena by Achilles.
The warrior, whose form is characterized by great strength and beauty, encircles the form of the maiden with his left arm, while his right is uplifted and in its hand is a sword with which he is about to strike down the mother, Hecuba, who, kneeling at his feet, implores his mercy while she clings piteously to her child and the betrayer. The entire group is exceedingly strong, not unworthy of the immortal company by which it is surrounded, and the powerful impression which it makes upon all beholders is intensified when one recalls the fact that, on the promontory of Sigeum - so the legend goes - where, after the fall of Troy, were buried the ashes of the hero-leader Achilles, and those of his friend Patroclus, Polyxena was offered as a propitiatory sacrifice. The group is instinct with vitality, passion and action, and seems more real and lifelike the oftener you behold it.

Il Ratto di Polissena è una scultura di Pio Fedi collocata nella Loggia dei Lanzi a Firenze.
Scolpita tra il 1855 e il 1865 dopo una lunga gestazione con studi e disegni (molti dei quali ancora conservati a Firenze e a Roma) è considerata il capolavoro dell'artista ed una delle più significative opere della scultura ottocentesca italiana, tanto da meritarsi la prestigiosissima collocazione in piazza della Signoria a Firenze, unica opera moderna tra capolavori antichi e Rinascimentali.
Il soggetto della scultura è Polissena, figlia minore di Priamo, rapita da Pirro per essere sacrificata in previsione della partenza delle navi greche per il ritorno dalla guerra di Troia. La violenza del rapimento è sottolineata dall'uccisione del fratello di Polissena Polidoro, caduto per difendere la sorella, e dal braccio alzato di Pirro con la spada impugnata che sta per vibrare il colpo per uccidere anche la madre di Polissena, Ecuba, che cerca di trattenerlo.
Per scolpirla il Fedi si ispirò a una statua di Lorenzo Bartolini (Pirro che getta Astianatte da una torre) ed all'Ercole e Lica di Antonio Canova, ma anche al vicino Patroclo e Menelao di fattura romana, soprattutto nella fisionomia del protagonista.
La statua è caratterizzata dalla complessità del soggetto, trattato con un'azione quasi teatrale, rappresentata dal gesto del braccio di Pirro che alza la spada.

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