Mythological paintings (until 1614)
by Peter Paul RUBENS

Rubens returned to Antwerp in 1608 from Italy, and he brought with him an interest in the heritage of Antique art and literature that developed into a cornerstone of his thinking and artistic production. After setting up home in Antwerp, he devoted himself with unfailing interest to Greek and Roman mythology, which he used for the subject of many works, mostly as private commissions.

The lyricism, eloquence and sensuality that characterise his entire oeuvre are already apparent in Rubens's mythological compositions of 1600-1620. These are often vigorous, earthy works: Venus Frigida, The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, Drunken Bacchus and Satyrs and The Three Graces. The taste for opulent forms and buxom nudes prevailing in these works, and the vitality and pantheism they radiate, took on a more intimate and even, elegiac note in the latter stages of Rubens's life.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 2 minutes):
Jacobus Gallus: Currit parrus lepulus, motet

Preview Picture Data Info
Leda and the Swan
Oil on wood, 65 x 81 cm
Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge

The Battle of the Amazons
c. 1600
Oil on canvas
Schloss Sanssouci, Potsdam

Oil on canvas, 179 x 66 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Hero and Leander
c. 1605
Oil on canvas, 128 x 217 cm
Gemaldegalerie, Dresden

Hero and Leander (detail)
c. 1605
Oil on canvas
Gemaldegalerie, Dresden

Hero and Leander
c. 1605
Oil on canvas, 96 x 127 cm
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven

The Judgment of Paris
Oil on copper, 34 x 45 cm
Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna

Venus at her Toilet
c. 1608
Oil on canvas, 137 x 11 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Prometheus Bound
Oil on canvas, 243 x 210 cm
Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Juno and Argus
c. 1611
Oil on canvas, 249 x 296 cm
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

The Drunken Hercules
c. 1611
Oil on oak panel, 220 x 220 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

The Abduction of Ganymede
Oil on canvas, 203 x 203 cm
Schwarzenberg Palace, Vienna

Venus, Cupid, Baccchus and Ceres
Oil on canvas, 141 x 200 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel

The Statue of Ceres
c. 1615
Oil on wood, 91 x 66 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Jupiter and Callisto
Oil on canvas, 202 x 305 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel

Cupid Making His Bow
Oil on canvas, 142 x 108 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Venus Frigida
Oil on wood, 142 x 184 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

Venus and Adonis
c. 1614
Oil on panel, 83 x 91 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Summary of works by Rubens
Religious themes
until 1616 | 1617-20 | 1620s | 1630s
Altarpieces in Antwerp Cathedral | Biblical scenes
Mythological themes
until 1614 | 1614-29 | 1630s
Large royal projects | Allegorical themes
until 1629 | 1630s
Landscapes | Hunting and other themes
Graphic works | Architecture

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.