the rape of persephone rubens engraving
Oil painting on copper, The Rape of Proserpine (after Rubens) by Willem van Herp (Antwerp ca.1614 – Antwerp 1677), mid 17th century, after an etching by Pieter Soutman, after his own drawing, after an oil sketch by Rubens for a lost original from Blenheim Palace. This slightly unusual depiction of the Rape of Proserpine, with its inclusion of the figure of Athene / Minerva (because it is taken from Claudian’s poem on The Rape of Proserpine, rather than from Ovid’s Metamorphoses) shows Proserpine, whom Diana, Athene, and Venus had encouraged to pick flowers, being abducted by Pluto in his chariot, drawn by four black horses, as Athene threatens him, and the other goddesses and a Nereid look ineffectually on.
Arlington Court, The Chichester Collection (National Trust)
Photo credit: National Trust Images
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Proserpine, daughter of the earth goddess Ceres, was kidnapped by Pluto, the god of the underworld. Despite the resistance put up by Minerva, Venus and Diana, their relationship would blossom into love, as revealed by the presence of the cupids holding the chariot reigns and urging the horses on. This story of passion was part of the decoration of the Torre de la Parada.
Corpus rubenianum Ludwig Burchard: an illustrated catalogue , IX , Arcade Press , Londres , 1968 , pp. 257 .
Demeter in an Allegory of Summer
Demeter appears at the bottom of the painting, with plentiful grain. [Painting by Jerzy Siemiginowski-Eleuter, 1684-86.]
Portrait of Demeter
Demeter is shown here with a scythe and grain. [Unknown artist, French, 15th-16th century.]
Or take Thomas Lawrence’s Portrait of Mrs Arthur Annesley, a big slab of classical architecture, but with quite an extensive view over the estate on the right, and the painting dominated by sweet little darling children, appropriate to the Age of Sentiment.
Also in the same room and given the same treatment is the immense roof of the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall, London, which can still be seen today. It is covered in its entirety by scenes painted by Rubens and commissioned by Charles I to depict the power and glory of his father, King James I of Britain. It, also, is a commanding series of images, though less overwhelming than the Medici ones – and its impact slightly spoiled for anyone who knows that the paintings were still not complete when Charles I was led from that very room onto a scaffold built along the first floor of the building, to be beheaded. Absolute Monarchy, English style.