- Reference number
- Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
- The Persecution of the Harpies
- Ca. 1636
- 14,4 cm x 14 cm
- On display
- Donación duquesa viuda de Pastrana, 1889
In his Metamorphosis, Ovid tells of the moment when the Harpies, monstrous beings that were half bird and half woman, were persued and killed by two of the Argonauts that accompanied Jason.
On this panel, Rubens depicts the scene that served as a preparatory sketch for a painting by Erasmus Quellinus that hung in the Torre de la Parada.
The subject is one of the most enigmatic of the whole series. Before its true meaning was known, it was interpreted as the “banishment of the night” or as “angels driving evil spirits away.”
Indirectly, this painting displays Rubens' mastery of classical texts, which allowed him to include the most varied subject matter into his mythological works.