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Like the companion piece Venus and Adonis, which Adrian de Vries had made a short time earlier, The Rape of Proserpine was made for his important northern German client, Prince Ernst zu Schaumburg Lippe. The prince had both bronze groups placed in the square before the main gate – known as the Lion Gate – in the town of Bückeburg, his royal seat. The story of the lovestruck Pluto, who abducts Proserpine to the underworld, is told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses (V, 376–571). In conceiving his composition, especially the figure of Pluto, Adrian de Vries was inspired by Giambologna’s pyramidal abduction scene, The Rape of the Sabine Women, in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. The dynamic of the resistant figure of Proserpine, however, recalls Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s marble group of The Rape of Proserpine, made at almost the same time, which the grand master of the Roman baroque created for Cardinal Scipione Borghese. In his Rape of Proserpine, Adrian de Vries achieved a masterpiece that impressively combined two iconic works of the Italian plastic arts into a new, autonomous work.

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