Inventory number
P01668
Author
Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
Title
The Birth of the Milky Way
Chronology
Ca. 1637
Technique
Óleo
Support
Lienzo
Dimensions
181 cm x 244 cm
School
Flamenca
Theme
Mitología
On display
Yes
Provenance
Colección Real (Torre de la Parada, El Pardo-Madrid; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 991; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, antecámara, 1794, nº 991; Palacio Real, Madrid, antecámara, 1814-1818, nº 991).

Hercules was born from one of Jupiter's affairs with a mortal. Though loved and protected by his father, he was repudiated by the latter's wife, Juno. In order to insure his son's immortality, Jupiter placed him in the goddess's arms so that he could suckle while she was sleeping next to her chariot pulled by peacocks. When, in his enthusiasm, Hercules bites her, Juno awakens and brusquely pulls him away from her. The milk spilling out of her breast turned into the Milky Way. On the left, Jupiter looks on. He is identified by his eagle and lightening bolts.

Rubens based this painting for the Torre de la Parada —a small royal palace near Madrid— on a work by Titian (Ca. 1485 - 1576), though the goddess's face is that of his wife, Hélène Fourment.

 
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