Andiron with the Rape of a Sabine

LL 189


An andiron (more commonly known as a firedog) is a metal stand used for supporting wood in an open fireplace. It is usually one of a pair, as is the case here (LL 189 & LL 190). The three intertwined figures refer to the Rape of the Sabine Women. It is a reduced version of the monumental marble sculpture by Giovanni da Bologna (Giambologna) made in 1583 for the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. According to Roman history, the abduction of Sabine women occurred shortly after the city's founding. Rome was mainly founded by men, and risked failing if no women joined the city to grow the population. Romulus, the founder of Rome, sent messengers to surrounding towns to establish relationships with their neighbours and to search for wives. The Sabines were one of these neighbouring groups, who feared the growing power of Rome so refused the offer. As a result, the Romans planned to abduct the Sabine women during the festival of Neptune Equester. They announced a festival of games to attract people from the nearby towns, and the Sabines, eager to see the newly established city and enjoy the festival, attended. At the festival, Romulus gave a signal at which the Romans grabbed the Sabine women and fought off the Sabine men.