- Reference number
- Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
- Atalanta and Meleager hunting the Wild Boar of Calydon
- Ca. 1636
- 162 cm x 264 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (Alcázar, Madrid, 1666, 1686, 1701 y 1734; Palacio Nuevo, Madrid, 1772 y 1794; Palacio de Aranjuez, Madrid, Consejo de Estado, 1818, nº 2).
As Ovid tells in his Metamorphosis (book VIII, 260-444), the goddess Diana sent a giant wild boar to ravage the kingdom of Calydon. The king's son, Meleager, and his beloved Atalanta organize a hunt with the help of their cousins, Castor and Pollux.
Rubens depicts this passage, distributing the figures in the foreground near the bottom of the composition in order to direct the viewer's gaze toward the center of the image, where Atalanta, having mortally wounded the animal, sics the dogs on it. Her cousins arrive from the left and, on the right, Meleager carries a long javelin.
With a perfect knowledge of the classical texts, Rubens offers a faithful depiction of Ovid's story. As was characteristic of his final works, he set the even in a lush landscape with a broad panorama and a light source on the left. Abandoning the naturalistic sense of other works, he creates a poetic and idyllic setting that is very appropriate for the subject. His source of visual inspiration for this work included certain reliefs from ancient sarcophagi and drawings by Giulio Romano.
This work belonged to the painter until his death in 1640, when it was acquired for the collection of Felipe IV.