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Marriage of Peleus and Thetis
Jordaens, Jacob
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Jordaens, Jacob

Antwerp, 1593 - Antwerp, 1678

Miniatura autor See author's file

Marriage of Peleus and Thetis

1636 - 1638. Oil on canvas

As with the Rape of Hippodamia (P01658), this marriage scene was commissioned from Rubens as part of the mythological cycle drawn from Ovid´s Metamorphoses, which was to serve as the main artistic decoration of the Torre de la Parada. While Rubens prepared the oil sketch for the scene (Art Institute of Chicago), the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis was one of the numerous full-scale canvases whose execution Rubens delegated to his associates in Antwerp, in this case the painter Jacob Jordaens, who signed (IOR. Fecit) and dated the picture on the chair in the lower-right corner. Jordaens largely replicated the oil sketch by Rubens in the full-size canvas, although he subtly altered the placement of the heads of the two goddesses so that Minerva now appears above Venus. In addition, the face of Diana, with her crescent-moon diadem behind the upraised arm of Minerva, is more visible in the final canvas than in the original sketch by Rubens. In Rubens´s concept, carefully realized by Jordaens, the individual identities and personalities of the Olympian gods emerge clearly. Venus leans back and gestures at her own sumptuous nude body with mock modesty, while Cupid clings to her knee. Minerva, attired in her distinctive armor, hovers above Venus and reaches out past her to seize the gold prize, while Juno, clad in a Roman matron´s veil, reaches for it from the other side of the table. The drama of their interaction at this wedding feast, which gathers the gods at the table, is not expressly described by Ovid, although the courtship story of the mortal Peleus and the nereid (sea nymph) Thetis -the eventual mother of Achilles- appears in Book XI of the poem. Rather, this scene resembles another favorite mythical grouping for artists, the wedding of Cupid and Psyche, but it has a tragic climax. Eris, the goddess of discord and sister of the god of war, Mars, interrupts the festivities to toss into the gathering a golden apple, which is inscribed "to the fairest." That trophy immediately occasions a contest of vanity among the three leading goddesses: Juno, wife of Jupiter and goddess of the hearth; Minerva, daughter of Jupiter and goddess of wisdom; and Venus, goddess of love. These three are distinctly visible in the Prado canvas, reacting to the golden bauble in the very center of the composition. Above it, Eris, a shadowy winged figure, departs the scene. Eventually, the divine trio will stage a beauty contest, to be judged by the shepherd Paris, son of the Trojan king Priam, with assistance from Mercury, recognizable in his winged cap while gently touching the golden orb of contention. The juxtaposition of three ideal nude goddess figures would often serve Rubens as a favorite subject across his entire career. With the intervention of her son, Cupid, Venus will capture the prize in the contest and will reward Paris with the fairest of mortals -who turns out to be Helen, already the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Paris´s illicit union with Helen will lead to the devastating Trojan War, which concludes Book XII of the Metamorphoses. Netherlandish artists particularly used this subject to showcase their learning as well as their mastery of consummate physical beauty in the form of the gods. Jordaens was no exception in this regard, although he rendered the nude body -above all Venus´s- with a firm, robust fleshiness that emphasized her corporeality. Indeed, like Rubens, Jordaens depicted Venus´s and Cupid´s flesh in a range of cool and warm tones that creates a softness of texture, especially evident in the dimples just visible along Venus´s thigh. As in Rubens´s Rape of Hippodamia, the disruption of a wedding held a moralizing message germane to the court of Philip IV: even the gods display vanity and pride that leads to conflict as well as the human carnage of war described in Homer´s Iliad. The two paintings by Rubens and Jordaens -of nearly identical size and in thematic complement around banquet tables- appear to have traveled as pendants from the Torre de la Parada to the New Royal Palace; a 1772 inventory lists them adjacent to each other. Later in the eighteenth century, they were located in separate parts of the royal residence, with the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis placed in the antecámera, the antechamber to the throne room, until its transfer to the Prado in the 1820 (Text drawn from Silver, L.: Splendor, Myth, and Vision. Nudes from the Prado, 2016, pp. 134-137).

Technical data

Related artworks

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Crayon lithography on wove paper, 1832 - 1837
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Las bodas de Tetis y Peleo
Lithographic aquatint on wove paper, 1832 - 1837
Las bodas de Tetis y Peleo
Lithographic aquatint on wove paper, 1832 - 1837
Las bodas de Tetis y Peleo
Lithographic aquatint on wove paper, 1832 - 1837
Inventory number
P001634
Author
Jordaens, Jacob
Title
Marriage of Peleus and Thetis
Date
1636 - 1638
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 181 cm.; Width: 288 cm.
Series
Torre de la Parada
Provenance
Royal Collection (Torre de la Parada, El Pardo-Madrid, Eighth Room, 1701; Torre de la Parada, Second Room, 1747, no. 29; New Royal Palace, Madrid, Gallery Hall and Back Rooms ("paso de tribuna y trascuartos"), 1772, no. 993; New Royal Palace, Antechamber, 1794, no. 993; New Royal Palace, Antechamber, 1814-1818, no. 993; "Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII", Madrid, Gallery no. 2, Flemish School, 1834, no. 318).

Bibliography +

Rooses, Max, Rubens. S. VIe et Ses Oeuvres, Flammarion, Paris, 1903, pp. 596-599.

Corpus rubenianum Ludwig Burchard: an illustrated catalogue, IX, Arcade Press, Londres, 1968, pp. 249.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Museo del Prado: catálogo de pinturas. Escuela flamenca, Museo del Prado; Patrimonio Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 159.

Hulst, R. A. d'., Jacob Jordaens, Sotheby, Londres, 1982, pp. 174.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, El siglo de Rubens en el Museo del Prado: catálogo razonado, Prensa Ibérica, Barcelona, 1995, pp. 636.

Vergara, Alejandro, The Presence of Rubens in Spain. (Volumes i and II). Tesis D, A Bell & Howell Company, Ann Arbor, 1999, pp. 424.

Classical mythology in the Netherlands in the age of Renaiss..., Peeters, Amberes, 2009.

Georgievska-Shine, Aneta Silver, Larry, Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain, Ashgate, Surrey, 2014, pp. 39-40 Lám.7 fg.2.11.

Silver, L, 'Jacob Jordaens. Marriage of Peleus and Thetis'' En:, Splendor, Myth, and Vision : Nudes from the Prado, Clark Art Institute ; Museo Nacional del Prado,, 2016, pp. 134-137 n.16.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Las bodas de Tetis y Peleo, Tendencias del mercado del arte, marzo, 2016, pp. 84-86 [85 f.4].

Silver, L, 'Ruben's Myths for the Rey Planeta at the Torre de la Parada' En: The Age of Rubens: diplomacy, dynastic politics and the visual arts in Early Seventeenth century., Brepols,, 2016, pp. 235-254 [246].

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Jacob Jordaens y España, Epiarte, Instituto Moll., Madrid, 2018, pp. 198-203 n.29 [o.r. 377-382 f.6].

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Jacob Jordaens and Spain, Epiarte: Instituto Moll,, 2019, pp. N.29 p.198-203.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Torre de la Parada, 1701-1703. Núm. s.n..
Pieza octava [...] {7538} Vna pintura de quatro varas de ancho de las bodas de Tetis y Peleo de mano de Yrrisi (Rici?) tasada en ciento y cinquenta doblones = Perdida en el saqueo militar ya citado

Inv. Felipe V, Torre de la Parada, 1747. Núm. 29.
Pieza segunda [...] 29 / Otro de tres varas y tercia de ancho y dos y quarta de alto el Convite de las tres Diosas y la Diosa de la discordia con la Manzana en la mano y su marco dorado 1000

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 993.
Paso de Tribuna y Trascuartos [...] 993 / Torre de la Parada = Otro de vn convite de los dioses flamenco de tres varas y media de largo y dos y quarta de caida original de Jordan

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 993.
Antecámara [...] 993 / Tres varas y media de largo y mas de dos y media de alto: Las Vodas de Tetis y Peleo: Escuela flamenca ... 8000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 993.
Antecámara [...] 993 / Tres varas y media largo mas de dos y media alto las bodas de Tetis = Flamenco

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. 318.
Salon 2º Escuela Flamenca. Tres cientos diez y ocho. Las Bodas de Tetis y Meleo Y.R.Escuela de Rubens Lº 40.680

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1277.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1277.
REYN (JUAN DE) / 1277. BODAS DE TETIS Y PELEO. / ASISTEN AL BANQUETE JUPITER, NEPTUNO, ANFITITRE, DIANA, VULCANO, MARTE Y LAS TRES DIOSAS QUE DISPUTAN LA MANZANA DE ORO ARROJADA POR LA DISCORDIA, Y QUE MUESTRAN YA SUS DESEOS DE OBTENERLA, PERO JUPITER, QUE LA HA RECIBIDO, LA PASA A LAS MANOS DE MERCURIO. (C.L.) / ALTO 6 PIES, 6 PULG; ANCHO 10 PIES, 4 PULG.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1546.

Exhibitions +

Splendor, Myth and Vision: Nudes from the Prado
Williamstown MA
12.06.2016 - 10.10.2016

Location +

Room 079 (On Display)

Update date: 02-08-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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