The Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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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.

The National Gallery, London



The Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs


probably 1500-15


Oil on wood


H 71 x W 260 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Charles Haslewood Shannon, 1937

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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