I thought at first that this sculpture was Roman, but only the torso of the centaur (half man, half horse) remained and so the rest, including the head and legs of the centaur and the entirety of Hercules, was added in the sixteenth century. Well, other than the feet of Hercules, they’re mostly original Roman as well. It depicts Hercules slaying Nessus who had tried to kill Deianira, the wife of Hercules.
The element that I liked most about this sculpture is that it has been on display in this corridor since 1595 and it’s near the main entrance to the upper floors of the gallery, which is where visitors start their tour. There must have been countless millions who have looked at this sculpture and there can’t be many artworks in the world that have had this uninterrupted period of being on public display.
The sixteenth century additions to the sculpture were made by Giovanni Caccini, but over the last few years there has been a restoration of it and they’ve been able to see exactly where the joins in the sculpture have been made, the merging of the old and new. They also discovered that the stance of the centaur was changed slightly and that more work was done on the foot of Hercules than had previously been realised. The same recent re-examination of the sculpture also found that the original marble is from Asia, whereas Caccini used marble from Tuscany.