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The Rape of Europe
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Rape of Europe
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul

Europe turns a last glance at her companions, who are located outside the composition, as Jupiter carries her away. The god was profoundly enamored of her and transformed into a bull in order to approach her. This story from Ovid´s Metamorphoses is depicted by Rubens in a very succinct manner in this preparatory sketch for a painting Erasmus Quellinus made for the Torre de la Parada.

Orpheus and Eurydice
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)
Orpheus and Eurydice
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)

Orpheus descends into the Underworld to recover his wife, Eurydice, who died after being bitten by a serpent. Pluto and Proserpina, the god and goddess of the underworld, are so moved by the music of his lyre that they accede to his request. The only condition they impose is that he contains his desire and not look at his beloved until they have both fully departed the underworld. On the basis of

Deucalion and Pyrrha
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul
Deucalion and Pyrrha
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul

Humanity´s rebirth after the flood is represented in Greek mythology through the story of Deucalion and Pyrrha. After surviving the disaster, they threw stones over their shoulders, each of which became a new being. This story is told by the classical poet, Ovid, in his Metamorphoses. This painting is a sketch by Rubens for a painting —now lost— by Jan Cossiers for the Torre de la Parada. Rubens w

Heraclitus, the Crying Philosopher
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (Workshop Of)
Heraclitus, the Crying Philosopher
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (Workshop Of)

The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus (540-470 B.C.), wears a black tunic and leans on a stone, weeping. He embodies the idea of a tragic sense of life, thinking about the future form a lonely and pessimistic point of view. This work was made for the Torre de la Parada, a small royal palace near Madrid, and contrasts with the thinking of Democritus (P01682), with which it was paired.

Marriage of Peleus and Thetis
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Jordaens, Jacques
Marriage of Peleus and Thetis
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Jordaens, Jacques

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 ex

Cephalus and Procris
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul
Cephalus and Procris
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul

Fearing she was a victim of infidelity, Procris followed her beloved Cephalus to a clearing in the woods, where he was resting during a hunting expedition. The young woman´s jealousy led her to her death when Cephalus mistook her for wild game and shot her with an arrow. Rubens chose to depict that story from Ovid´s Metamorphoses in this preparatory sketch for a painting intended to decorate the T

Tereus' Banquet
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)
Tereus' Banquet
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)

Tereus, King of Thrace and wife of Procne, raped his sister-in-law, Philomela, cutting out her tongue in order to avoid being denounced. But when Philomela weaves a tapestry, her sister Procne discovers the atrocious event. In vengeance, she kills Tereus´ son, serving it to him in a macabre banquet. The story is based on Ovid´s Metamorphoses (Book VI). Rubens chose to depict the exact moment when,

The Rape of Proserpine
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul -Painter- (And Workshop)
The Rape of Proserpine
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul -Painter- (And Workshop)

Proserpine, daughter of the earth goddess Ceres, was kidnapped by Pluto, the god of the underworld. Despite the resistance put up by Minerva, Venus and Diana, their relationship would blossom into love, as revealed by the presence of the cupids holding the chariot reigns and urging the horses on. This story of passion was part of the decoration of the Torre de la Parada.

The Rape of Hippodamia
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)
The Rape of Hippodamia
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)

Like Fortuna (P1674) and the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis (P1634), the Rape of Hippodamia was part of the massive cycle of mythologies designed by Peter Paul Rubens in 1636-37 for the Torre de la Parada, Philip IV´s newly constructed hunting lodge on the outskirts of Madrid. The oil sketch for this picture, now in Brussels (Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique), was largely replicated in the

Satyr
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)
Satyr
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)

In classical mythology, Silenus was the guardian of forests. He was supposed to raise Bacchus when the latter was a child. Rubens depicts him in the customary manner: with goat ears and a scraggly beard, alluding to his condition as a wild being, and clothed only in buckskin. The mask on which he is leaning recalls his ties to the world of theater, as a Bacchic and festive deity. Rubens once again

Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (Workshop Of)
Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (Workshop Of)

Democritus of Abdera (460-370 B.C.) is the pictorial pendant of Heraclitus (P01680) as well as his philosophical counterpoint. Wearing bright colors, he laughs sarcastically while contemplating a globe of the Earth, alluding to his concept of the comic meaning of life. During the Modern Age, this was interpreted on the basis of Christian precepts as a message alluding to the vanity of earthly life

Diana and her Nymphs hunting
Oil on oak panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul
Diana and her Nymphs hunting
Oil on oak panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul

Recognizable by the crescent-moon-shaped diadem on her head, Diana hunts deer with spears and dogs, accompanied by various nymphs. The extremely horizontal composition is one of the peculiarities of this work, which belongs to an important sect of sketches made by Rubens for the pictorial decoration of the Torre de la Parada. On these small panels, the painter defined the design, colors, forms and

The Rape of Ganymede
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Rape of Ganymede
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul

Jupiter was so taken with Ganymede´s beauty that he transformed into an eagle to carry him off to Mount Olympus, where he became his cup-bearer. Rubens drew this story from the classical poet, Ovid´s Metamorphoses (X, 155-161). He depicts the moment when the eagle catches the young shepherd and lifts him into the air. The diagonal composition has a distinctly ascending sense and the lightening bol

Vertumnus and Pomona
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul
Vertumnus and Pomona
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul

According to Ovid´s Metamorphosis, Vertumnus had to disguise himself as a woman in order to gain Pomona´s love. Rubens chose to depict the moment when, having removed his disguise, Vertumnus declares his love to the attractive young woman. She holds a sickle in her right hand, which alludes to her condition as a deity related to the fruits of nature. That is also why the scene is set in a garden.

The Persecution of the Harpies
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Persecution of the Harpies
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul

In his Metamorphoses, Ovid tells of the moment when the Harpies, monstrous beings that were half bird and half woman, were pursued 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.

Mercury and Argus
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)
Mercury and Argus
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul (And Workshop)

According to Ovid (Metamorphosis, book V), in order to avoid her husband Jupiter´s infidelities, the goddess, Juno, converted the nymph, Io, into a lamb and called on Argos, the shepherd, to look after her. Jupiter sent Mercury, the gods´ messenger, to kill Argos and recover the nymph. Rubens depicts Mercury without his traditional attributes. He only carries his sword and the flute with which he

Prometheus
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Cossiers, Jan
Prometheus
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Cossiers, Jan

La historia de Prometeo, narrada en la obra Prometeo encadenado del poeta griego Esquilo y en la Teogonía del también poeta Hesiodo, cuenta como Prometeo robó el fuego de los dioses para dárselo a los hombres. La obra muestra el momento en el que Prometeo escapa del Olimpo con la llama, girando la cabeza para evitar que se descubra el robo. Esta pintura forma parte del programa decorativo de la To

Hercules and Cerberus
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul
Hercules and Cerberus
Oil on panel. 1636 - 1637
Rubens, Peter Paul

The mythological hero fights against the fearful three-headed dog that guards the Underworld while two figures, possibly the Underworld´s titular gods, Pluto and Proserpina, watch the scene in terror. Rubens was directly inspired by Ovid´s Metamorphoses in his depiction of this test of Hercules, though it is also described in other classical texts, such as Homer´s Iliad and Odyssey. This is one of

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