- Reference number
- Rubens, Peter Paul, Snyders, Frans
- The Recognition of Philopoemen
- Ca. 1609
- 201 cm x 313,5 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection (Royal Palace, Madrid, “cuarto del príncipe-cámara”, 1814-1818, s.n.)
According to Plutarch, Philopoemen, a strategist and general of the Aequian League that fought against Sparta, visited the city of Megara. Because of his unassuming, humble appearance, the lady of the house confused him with a servant and put him to work. The present scene depicts the moment when the husband realizes the general's true identity, under whose modest appearance is hidden the grandeur of his personality.
Painted right after Rubens returned from Italy, this work reveals the artist's profound knowledge of classical culture. Its formal aspects, forceful figures and almost tenebrist treatment of light also bear witness to his southern influence.
The idea carried out by these two artists together in the same work marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between Rubens and Snyders. Such collaborations were actually quite frequent among Flemish artists. Rubens made the figures while the large still life in the foreground is by Snyders, who shows the same taste for detain in his depiction of some of the animals he would repeat throughout his career, such as turkeys and swans.
This work is first listed in Spain in 1660, when it hung in Madrid's Alcázar Palace.