The statue depicts three nude figures: a young man in the center who has seemingly taken a woman from a despairing older man below him.
“It is ostensibly based on the kidnap of the Sabine Women incident from the early history of Rome when the city contained relatively few women, leading to their men committing a “raptio” (large-scale abduction; the word is rendered as rape in archaic or literary English) of young women from nearby towns and cities.”
Giambologna here was more interested in displaying his immense and virtuosic talent as a sculptor than in creating sculptural historiography.
Indeed, his working titles for this statue at various times included “Paris and Helen,” “Pluto and Proserpina” and “Phineus and Andromeda,”although the naming was not a matter he was preoccupied with.
According to art historian John Shearman, the statue was “an experiment in form rather than content”, and typical of its time, “the expression of artistic qualities”.
The historian Charles Avery described the work as “purely a compositional exercise”
“Giambologna was in need of a title and requested input from a number of writers. The Italian monk, philologist and art collector Vincenzo Borghini suggested the title La Rappia delle Sabine (The Plunder of the Sabine Maidens).
According to art historian Michael Cole, the title may fit in someway, but is essentially unsatisfactory or perhaps meaningless as it does not convey the artist’s real intent. According to Cole “the scene…conforms with what one would expect in a depiction of the Sabines, but nothing there really clarifies the identities of the characters.”
Modern Renaissance Art Collection