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The Birth of Apollo and Diana
Rubens, Peter Paul
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Rubens, Peter Paul

Siegen, Westphalia (Germany), 1577 - Antwerp (Belgium), 1640

Rubens, Peter Paul See author's file

The Birth of Apollo and Diana

Ca. 1625. Wash, White lead, Ink on laid paper Not on display

Held by two young maids, Leto gives birth to Diana and Apollo before a temple portico. She is surrounded by women and children who help her bear the pain. A second group of children in the foreground contribute to sense of depth, reflecting a mannerist practice common in works by Giulio Romano and Primaticcio.

In the Pastrana family inventory, this was considered a drawing of the death of Pandora, and indeed, its subject matter is not easily determined. Diana, who was born before Apollo, appears at the center of the scene, where she is easily distinguished from the other nude children. The mothers and children aiding Leto are explained by her role as goddess of birth, reproduction and fertility. When the Pastrana collection was donated to the Museo del Prado, this work was listed as the death of Leto, but it could just as well reflect Andromache fainting after learning of her husband Hector’s death. In fact, Primaticcio’s painting of that scene was a direct source for Rubens. The drawing is severe, with robust forms and emotive visual values. The models are rendered with simplified schematic lines and the influence of ancient sculpture is clear in the French-Italian mannerist composition. The figures fill the space and the formal constructivism does not weaken their expressive values, which are sparing but clear in the group of women aiding Leto or Andromache in her swoon (Text drawn from Díaz Padrón, M.: Pedro Pablo Rubens (1577-1640): Exposición Homenaje, 1978, p. 133).


Technical data

Inventory number
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Birth of Apollo and Diana
Ca. 1625
Wash; White lead; Ink
Laid paper
Height: 420 mm.; Width: 560 mm.
Bequest of María Dionisia Vives y Zires, Duchess of Pastrana, 1889

Bibliography +

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Pedro Pablo Rubens (1577-1640): exposición homenaje, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Patrimonio, 1978, pp. 133, 250, nº 121.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 191.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 25 n.98-n.99.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 994.

Exhibitions +

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

Update date: 02-05-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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