Skip to main content
The Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs
Piero di Cosimo
/

The brutal fight between the Lapiths and the centaurs, as described by the first-century Roman poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses, is displayed on this panel. The story starts with the wedding feast of Pirithous, King of the Lapiths. During the celebrations, the centaur Eurytion, drunk and possessed by lust, seized the bride by her hair.

Piero di Cosimo has actually relegated this scene to the right, showing the bride partially naked in a blue robe with the centaur grabbing her hair. All the commotion seems superfluous to the centaur couple embracing in the middle of the composition. In Ovid’s story these figures are secondary, but Piero di Cosimo has centred them, capturing a tender moment amid the violent commotion.

This picture was probably made as a spalliera panel, which would be set into wall panelling, and commissioned around the time of a young Florentine couple’s marriage. Displayed in the husband’s camera (chamber) in their family palace, Piero’s painting would have warned the couple how not to behave.

Key facts
Artist Piero di Cosimo
Artist dates 1462 - 1522
Full title The Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs
Date made probably 1500-15
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 71 x 260 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Charles Haslewood Shannon, 1937
Inventory number NG4890
Location in Gallery Not on display
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo