Achilles Discovered by Ulysses and Diomedes
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Inventory number
P01661
Author
Rubens, Peter Paul (and Workshop)
Title
Achilles Discovered by Ulysses and Diomedes
Chronology
1617 - 1618
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimensions
248,5 cm x 269,5 cm
School
Flemish
Theme
Mythology
On display
Yes
Provenance
Royal Collection (Collection of Felipe IV, Madrid, 1625; Royal Alcázar Palace, Madrid, 1636; Royal Alcázar Palace, “salón de los espejos-cuartos principales”, 1700, n. 10; Royal Palace of El Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1746; New Royal Palace, Madrid, 1772; New Royal Palace, “pieza de tocador”, 1794, s.n.; Royal Palace, Madrid, “cuarto del mayordomo mayor”, 1814-1818, s.n.)

According to prophecy, Achilles was to die in the Trojan War. In order to avoid this, his mother hid him in the court of King Lycomedes, disguised as a woman. There, he spent time among the king's daughters, falling in love with Deidamia.

Ulysses and Diomedes knew about this scheme and wanted Achilles to help them fight the war. Disguised as merchants, they showed certain presents to the ladies as a way of giving Achilles away. As they hoped, the hero gave away his maleness by showing interest in weapons rather than jewels and other female adornments.

Rubens chooses the exact moment when Ulysses, on the right, denounces Achilles as he unsheathes a sword. That is when he calls him to fight against the Trojans. In the group on the right, surrounded by the other ladies, Deidamia senses the imminent departure of her beloved.

This work was made by Van Dyck when he was a disciple of Rubens. The latter retouched it and it was offered to the English collector, Sir Dudly Carleton, who rejected it because it was not entirely by Rubens. It was later sent to Spain, and by 1625 it was in Madrid's Alcázar Palace.

 
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