Rape of Proserpina
Francesco Maria Schiaffino
The sculptor, inspired by the ancient myth spread above all by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, captures the moment in which Pluto, king of the underworld, forcefully kidnaps Proserpina, daughter of the goddess Ceres, who desperately raises her arm towards the sky in an extreme seeking help. Francesco Maria Schiaffino, trained in Rome in the studio of Camillo Rusconi, proposes a model by the master in turn inspired by the famous group by Gian Lorenzo Bernini kept in Rome in the Borghese Gallery, resolving its accentuated dynamism in a more decorative rendering typical of the sensitivity of Rococo culture. At the feet of the two characters, the fearsome three-headed dog of the god, Cerberus, attends the event, according to the ancient guardian of the afterlife. The sculptor obtains a very fine rendering of details, making the marble almost ductile as seen in the hands of Pluto pressing on Proserpina's soft flesh. The drama will then end with a happy ending: thanks to a pomegranate offered to her by Pluto, Proserpina will fall in love with the god until she marries him and becomes the queen of Hades. However, she was allowed to live six months a year on earth with her mother Ceres, making the meadows bloom and starting spring. The ancients with this myth explained the changing of the seasons.