RUBENS, Peter Paul
(b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)
The Judgment of Parisc. 1639
Oil on panel, 199 x 379 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
For the pictorial decoration of the Buen Retiro, a new pleasure palace on the eastern border of Madrid, the Spanish court in the 1630s commissioned and acquired many paintings from Italian and Flemish masters and workshops. The Flemish acquisitions were the responsibility of the cardinal infante Ferdinand, king Philip IV's brother and governor of Flanders, who flooded the Rubens workshop with commissions. For the Retiro he obtained more than a hundred paintings, including landscapes, allegories of the seasons and months of the year, hunting scenes and illustrations of Aesop's fables. Rubens himself produced the luminous Judgment of Paris, a painting much admired by Ferdinand despite his characteristically Spanish reservations about the fleshy goddesses.