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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.

Aesop
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1638
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Aesop
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1638
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

Aesop and Menippus are first listed in the inventory of the Torre de la Parada between 1701 and 1703. Among other works, this hunting lodge had a vast cycle of mythological paintings made by Rubens and his assistants, as well as some of Velázquez’s portraits of buffoons and member of the royal family dressed as hunters. The inventory also lists Rubens’s Democritus and Heraclitus, which is p

The Triumph of Bacchus
Oil on canvas. After 1635
Finoglia, Paolo Domenico
The Triumph of Bacchus
Oil on canvas. After 1635
Finoglia, Paolo Domenico

Paolo Domenico Finoglia was deeply involved in the creation of paintings for the History of Rome cycle at the Buen Retiro Palace. His participation includes this superb Triumph of Bacchus, a Gladiators’ Fight (Patrimonio Nacional, Inv. 10022324) and a painting with a very obscure subject traditionally known as Masinissa Mourning Over the Death of Sophonisba (P2280). This final work was even attrib

Diana and her Nymphs surprised by Satyrs
Oil on canvas. 1639 - 1640
Rubens, Peter Paul
Diana and her Nymphs surprised by Satyrs
Oil on canvas. 1639 - 1640
Rubens, Peter Paul

Diana the huntress is resting with her court of Nymphs in a clearing in the woods when she is attacked by a group of Satyrs. Rubens turned this painting into a virtuoso exercise in composition. In the foreground, two volumes lead to the rest of the scene: on the left are the hunting trophies attained by the nymphs, and on the right, a reclining nymph with her back to the viewer, one of the most se

The Apotheosis of Hercules
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Borkens, Jean Baptiste
The Apotheosis of Hercules
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Borkens, Jean Baptiste

Hércules aparece en obras de autores como Homero, Hesidodo y Peisandros de Rodas, supuesto escritor de sus doce trabajos. También Ovidio habla de él de manera breve en las Metamorfosis, concretamente para este episodio en el Libro IX, (268-272): "(...) Así el tirintio, cuando se desprendió de los miembros mortales, cobra vigor en su parte más noble, y empieza a parecer más grande y a inspirar resp

The Persecution of the Harpies
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Quellinus, Erasmus
The Persecution of the Harpies
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Quellinus, Erasmus

Las Harpías, seres mitológicos mitad mujer mitad pájaro, son perseguidas por Zetes y Calais, los hijos alados de Boreas. Esta historia es narrada por Ovidio pero de manera muy breve en las Metamorfosis en el libro VII (3-4): "(...) Los jóvenes hijos del Aquilón habían ahuyentado de la boca del desdichado anciano a los pájaros con cabeza de doncella”. Sin embargo S. Alpers, autora del único estudio

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

Bacchus and Ariadne
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Quellinus, Erasmus
Bacchus and Ariadne
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Quellinus, Erasmus

La historia de Ariadna y el dios tiene dos momentos fundamentales: uno es el encuentro entre ellos en la isla de Naxos después de que ésta fuera abandonada allí por Teseo, tema que representó Tiziano para Alfonso I de Este y que ceunta Ovidio en las Metamorfosis en el libro VIII (174-182): "(...) El hijo de Egeo raptó a la hija de Minos, largó velas rumbo a Día, y en aquella playa abandonó, cruel,

Masinissa Mourning Over the Death of Sophonisba (?)
Oil on canvas. XVII century
Finoglia, Paolo Domenico
Masinissa Mourning Over the Death of Sophonisba (?)
Oil on canvas. XVII century
Finoglia, Paolo Domenico

Within the large series of paintings dedicated to the history of Rome, this work and Meleager’s Hunt (P2320) belong to a small group of scenes from mythology and the history of Antiquity. This is undoubtedly the most mysterious group in the series -so much so, that the subject matter of some of its paintings has yet to be identified today. Moreover, neither the significance of this group as a whol

Buffoon with Books
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Buffoon with Books
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

One of the most distinguished components of Velázquez` oeuvre is his gallery of buffoons (or, as we would generally call them in English, jesters), dwarves, and other men of amusement who entertained the king of Spain and his court in idle moments. Although Velázquez was not the only artist who portrayed these entertainers, none other, either before or after, approached the subject s

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.

Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, in Hunting Dress
Oil on canvas. 1632 - 1634
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, in Hunting Dress
Oil on canvas. 1632 - 1634
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y

Born in El Escorial in 1609, don Fernando was the son of Philip III and Margarita de Austria, and thus Philip IV´s brother. As a result, he held very high posts. In 1619, he was appointed cardinal and between 1634 and his death in 1641, he was governor of Flanders, where he succeeded his aunt, the Archduchess Isabel Clara Eugenia. Generally dated around 1632-1634, in the years immediately followin

Roman Athletes
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Falcone, Aniello
Roman Athletes
Oil on canvas. Ca. 1640
Falcone, Aniello

This work belongs to a group from the History of Rome series for the Buen Retiro Palace. Dedicated to depictions of Roman public pastimes, the group includes athletes, gladiators, chariots, animal fights, mock sea battles and so on. Following initial doubts, the Buen Retiro Palace was conceived as a place of leisure, where it would be possible to forget the worries associated with running the mona

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

The chamber of Philip IV in the Buen Retiro Royal Palace
Oil on panel. 1881
Poleró y Toledo, Vicente
The chamber of Philip IV in the Buen Retiro Royal Palace
Oil on panel. 1881
Poleró y Toledo, Vicente

Mariana of Austria, Queen Consort between 1665 and 1675, talks to the Jesuit priest Nithard, her confessor and confidant, in the presence of her son Charles II, still a minor. The scene takes place in a room in the Buen Retiro Palace –on the left we see a Hieronymite monk– decorated by the painter with works related to Velazquez and King Philip IV: Las Meninas, the equestrian portraits of Philip I

The Fall of Icarus
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Gowy, Jacob Peeter
The Fall of Icarus
Oil on canvas. 1636 - 1638
Gowy, Jacob Peeter

Ícaro, hijo de Dédalo el constructor del laberinto del Minotauro, trató de huir con su padre de la isla de Creta con unas alas creadas por su padre que había pegado a la espalda con cera. Ovidio cuenta su historia en el libro VIII de las Metamorfosis (185-235): "(...) el muchacho empezó a recrearse en su atrevido vuelo, abandonó a su guía y, arrastrado por sus ansias de cielo, remontó el vuelo. La

Funeral Rites for a Roman Emperor
Oil on canvas. 1634 - 1635
Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri)
Funeral Rites for a Roman Emperor
Oil on canvas. 1634 - 1635
Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri)

This is the best-documented painting in the entire History of Rome cycle. It is also one of the works that raises the most questions about aspects as important as its authorship and its subject matter. Giambattista Passeri narrated how Domenichino was contracted by the Count of Monterrey, who became Spain’s Viceroy to Naples in 1634, and how Monterrey protected this painter when he was threatened

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