- Reference number
- Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
- Saturn devouring his son
- 182,5 cm x 87 cm
- Figura Humana
- On display
- Colección Real (Torre de la Parada, El Pardo-Madrid; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, antecámara de la princesa, 1772, nº 1004; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, cuarto de la reina-antecámara, 1794, nº 1004; Palacio Real, Madrid, antecámara de la reina, 1814-1818, nº 1004).
Saturn, the son of Heaven and Earth, was one of the Titans that ruled the Earth along with his wife, Rea. He is also identified with Chronos, the god of Time. He is depicted with a scythe, which symbolizes how time harvests lives. The three stars in the background allude to the planet of the same name.
According to the story in Ovid's Metamorphosis that inspired Rubens, Saturn killed all his sons in order to keep them from overthrowing him. He was later overthrown and banished by Zeus, his only surviving son.
Here, Rubens offers one of the most violent and heartrending scenes of all his oeuvre. He manages to suggest the forms with broad brushstrokes, which are most adequate for transmitting the violence of this subject.
This work was painted for the Torre de la Parada.