Inventory number
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Garden of Love
1633 - 1634
199 cm x 286 cm
On display
Colección Real (Real Alcázar, Madrid, Otra pieza-donde murió Su Magd., 1666, nº 67; Real Alcázar, Pieza donde S. M. dormia, 1686, s.n.; Real Alcázar, Pieza donde S. M. dormia, 1701-1703, nº 338; Real Alcázar, 1734, nº 810; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, Pinturas entregadas en dhas. Casas Arzobispales a Dn. Santiago Bonabia, 1747, nº 810; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 810; Palacio Real, Madrid, cuarto del mayordomo mayor, 1814-1818, nº 810; Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, Madrid, Salon 1º Escuela Holandesa, 1834, nº 186)

This scene from a court feast takes place in a relaxed atmosphere in which a group of persons flirt in an idyllic garden. The cupids around the group carry symbols of conjugal love, including a pair of doves and the yolk carried by the cupid in the upper left part of the composition. The fountains or sculptures of the three Graces and of Venus nursing signify fecundity and marital happiness, while the peacock symbolizes the goddess, Juno, who protects matrimony.

Rubens uses motives from Renaissance sculptures, but sets the scene in the mannerist portico of his own house in Antwerp, which led to the idea that it was a self-portrait with friends. In the early inventories it was called Rubens' Family, but in any case, it is an allegory and exaltation of conjugal love and happiness.

This work was listed for the first time in 1666, when it hung in the King's bedroom at Madrid's Alcázar Palace.

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