Mighty Monday: The Farnese Bull

It’s Monday- you feel like you’re having a tough time? You might want to think about Dirce who is just about to be mowed by the mighty bull in one of the most exquisite and magnificent sculptures to have reached us from ancient times.

Presenting to you the Farnese Bull
Presenting to you the Farnese Bull

The Farnese Bull is a sculpture in Hellenistic style that today stands in the Naples Archaeological Museum. Almost 12 feet in height the work towers above the onlooker. The sculpture is said to be the 2nd or 3rd Century AD copy of an original piece made in the 2nd Century BC- but copy or original there is no denying that the man or men who sculpted this piece of art knew what they were doing.

Essentially Dirce (the woman at the bottom left) is being tied to a very angry bull by two brothers who are avenging previous abuse to their mother. The sculpture conveys the energy of the scene – the raging bull, the resistance of the woman in front, the man trying to control the bull, the other animals (don’t miss the small details).

Side view of the Farnese Bull
Side view of the Farnese Bull

The sculpture is also styled to be viewed from all directions and not just from the front or the sides.

View from the rear
View from the rear

The sculpture was excavated from the Baths of Caracalla in the 16th century. The excavation was commissioned by Pope Paul III who hoped to find sculptures and ancient works of art that could adorn his Farnese Palace- thereby the name – the Farnese Bull.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lav says:


    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you!

  2. Nirmala says:

    So wonderful and exquisite!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Exquisite indeed!

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