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The Three Graces
Oil on oak panel. 1630 - 1635
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Three Graces
Oil on oak panel. 1630 - 1635
Rubens, Peter Paul

The Graces were minor deities but in this splendid work Peter Paul Rubens devotes his best effort to them. The three goddesses embrace each other forming a circle. The positioning of their feet suggests movement; they seem to dance gently. The setting is as luscious as the nude bodies of the goddesses. A field illuminated by sunlight filtered through dense trees stretches to a distant blue. The sh

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

Diana and Callisto
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1635
Rubens, Peter Paul
Diana and Callisto
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1635
Rubens, Peter Paul

When Rubens visited the Spanish court in Madrid from late August 1628 until April 1629, he copied many of the numerous paintings by Titian in the royal collection. He was seduced by the radical technique of broken brushstrokes characteristic of the late works of the Venetian, which inspired his own way of painting from this time until his death in 1640. He must also have been drawn by the emotiona

Leda and the Swan
Oil on panel. 1529 - 1550
Pencz, Georg
Leda and the Swan
Oil on panel. 1529 - 1550
Pencz, Georg

As in the case of Leonardo with his depiction of this story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the German artist Georg Pencz was inspired by classical sculpture (in this case the Sleeping Ariadne) to depict the seduction of the Aetolian princess by Zeus, transformed into a swan. In contrast to the Renaissance visual tradition, the swan does not wrap itself around Leda but rather flirts with her, allowing

The Fable of Leda
Oil on canvas. 1604
Cajés, Eugenio
The Fable of Leda
Oil on canvas. 1604
Cajés, Eugenio

This companion to The Rape of Ganymede (P119) is Eugenio Cajés’s copy of one of Antonio Corregio’s most famous and important paintings, which was in Spain’s Royal Collections. It presents an erotic episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which Jupiter takes the form of a swan to gain access to Leda, a nymph. The original, now at the Gemâldegalerie in Berlin, is one of the most prestigious ero

The Garden of Love
Oil on canvas. 1630 - 1635
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Garden of Love
Oil on canvas. 1630 - 1635
Rubens, Peter Paul

We are confronted here with one of Rubens’s greatest gifts as a painter: his ability to create images of a joyful way of being in the world related to love and inspired by ancient literature and Renaissance art. In the case of the latter, this means primarily Titian. This painting is especially close in mood to the Bacchanal of the Andrians and the Worship of Venus. Many features of this scene cal

The Judgement of Paris
Oil on panel. 1606 - 1608
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Judgement of Paris
Oil on panel. 1606 - 1608
Rubens, Peter Paul

As Homer tells it in The Iliad, Paris the shepherd, son of Priam, had to decide with of the three goddesses —Juno, Venus or Minerva— was the most beautiful, and give her the golden apple Mercury he had received from Mercury. On the left, Paris appears to be meditating, with the apple still in his hands. His attention is focused on Venus, in the middle of the composition. Minerva´s weapons are visi

The Abduction of Helen
Oil on canvas. 1578 - 1579
Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti
The Abduction of Helen
Oil on canvas. 1578 - 1579
Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti

Helen’s move from Sparta to Troy is described very differently in the two oldest narratives. In the Iliad, Homer describes Helen’s reticence to abandon Menelaeus, suggesting she was kidnapped by Paris. However, in his Ephemeris Belli Troiani (fourth century BC), Dictys Cretensis describes her departure as the willing flight of a woman in love. Both versions are represented in sixteenthcentury Ital

The Judgement of Paris
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Judgement of Paris
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1638
Rubens, Peter Paul

The mythological story of the Judgment of Paris begins with the wedding of Thetis and Peleus, where Eris, goddess of Discord, challenged the most beautiful goddesses to take a golden apple which she threw among the guests. Juno, Minerva and Venus started to argue and Jupiter decided to give the apple to Mercury and let Paris be the judge of this dispute. This judgment is told by the Roman poet Ovi

Design for a Majolica Plate [The Rape of Helen (?)]
Pencil, Pencil ground, Grey-brown ink on yellow paper. Mid-XVIcentury
Franco, Battista
Design for a Majolica Plate [The Rape of Helen (?)]
Pencil, Pencil ground, Grey-brown ink on yellow paper. Mid-XVIcentury
Franco, Battista

According to Vasari, Guidobaldo II, Duke of Urbino, commissioned Franco to prepare designs for maiolica following his failed attempt to decorate the vault of the choir of Urbino cathedral with a large-scale fresco of the Coronation of the Virgin. The Duke, probably rightly, concluded that Franco´s meticulous, yet elegant style was better suited to work on a smaller scale. The artist was consequent

Leda
White marble. Ca. 135
Roman Sculptor
Leda
White marble. Ca. 135
Roman Sculptor

This is a Roman copy of a famous work by Timotheus (c. 370 B. C.). This Greek sculptor, known for his activity in Epidaurus and in the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, shows Leda partly naked as a result of a sudden movement which opens her dress. This new feature was surpassed twenty years later by Praxiteles with the creation of the totally naked Aphrodite of Cnidus. The viewer has to imagine the abs

Cinerary urn
White marble. 140 - 150
Roman Sculptor
Cinerary urn
White marble. 140 - 150
Roman Sculptor

This urn served as a recipient for the bones and ashes generated by a public incineration ceremony. The round shape at the back of the urn allowed it to be stored in a semicircular niche in the funerary buildings whose rows of such small hollows led them to be called columbari (dovecotes) in modern times. A beautiful detail of its rich relief ornamentation are the two animals on opposite sides of

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