- Inventory number
- Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
- The Rape of Proserpina
- 181 cm x 271,2 cm
- Figura Humana
- On display
- Colección Real (Torre de la Parada, El Pardo-Madrid; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, antecámara de la serenísima infanta, 1772, nº 997; Palacio Nuevo, cuarto del príncipe, 1794, nº 997; Palacio Real, Madrid, cuarto del príncipe-cámara, 1814-1818, nº 997).
Pluto, god of the underworld, kidnaps Proserpina, the daughter of the goddess of the Earth, Ceres. In a moment of madness, he pulls her up into his chariot while Venus, Diana and Minerva vainly try to stop him. The two cupids pulling the chariot announce Pluto's success. In light of Ceres' anger, Jupiter concedes the kidnapped woman the right to spend a part of the year with her mother, which is when the Earth is happy and produces her fruits.
This scene is based on the Greek myth told in Ovid's Metamorphosis (book V), which explains the seasons.
In this painting for the Torre de la Parada, Rubens chose a composition of great narrative and visual violence in which the god's expression imposes a lateral rhythm on the figures' movements, symbolizing his rapid flight. As in many of Rubens' works for this small palace near Madrid, the composition is based on ancient sculpture, specifically, certain Roman sarcophagi that depict the same event.
This work entered the Prado Museum in 1837.