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The Death of Achilles

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  • Jerdja asked

    Which sources or texts that Rubens chose as the references for making The Life of Achilles painting series, especially the scene of Achilles' death?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Jerdja, for this question you need to consult literature about Rubens and his working practice. I would start with the book I mentioned before: The Life of Achilles by Friso Lammertse et al. Kind regards,

  • Jerdja Rujirat asked

    I wonder if the animals in front of Achilles (a fox and a griffon?) are symbolics. What do they mean?
    The pillar on the left and right depicted of whom, Venus and Apollo? And if the snake on the right is Python, why does it appear in this scene?
    Thank you.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Jerdja, thanks for asking. As Achilles is hit in his heel by the poisonous arrow, the scene is mirrored by a fox attacking an eagle. The Greek hero is compared to an eagle and Paris (sneakily led by Apollo) to a wily fox. I am not sure about the snake, it might be symbolizing evil and treason, as a snakes do more often. The whole series of oil sketches has been described and explained in a book by Friso Lammertse, our former curator of old art: The Life of Achilles. You might find it in a good art library. Good luck with your research! Els

  • Paul Nadzikewycz asked

    Original tapestry value

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Paul, as a museum we usually don't make statements about the value of objects. Best, Rianne


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More information

Achilles was killed by Paris, the son of the Trojan king Priam, when he was waiting the arrival of Polyxena, the daughter of Priam, in the temple of Apollo Thymbraeus. While Achilles was making a sacrifice in honour of his forthcoming marriage to Polyxena, Paris, assisted by Apollo, shot him in his only vulnerable spot - the heel. The last sketch in the series shows Paris on the left next to Apollo, shooting the arrow. The dying Achilles is supported by a man who has been identified as Automedon or Odysseus. The priest looks at Achilles in despair, a third figure, Antilochus, turns away in fear towards Paris and Apollo. This is the last of a series of eight oil sketches showing scenes from the life of the Greek hero Achilles.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title The Death of Achilles
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height 45,3 cm
Width 46 cm
Artists Schilder: Peter Paul Rubens
Accession number 1760 e (OK)
Credits Schenking / Donation: D.G. van Beuningen 1933
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1933
Creation date in 1630 - 1635
Age artist Between 53 and 58 years old
Collector Collector / D.G. van Beuningen
Internal exhibitions Petrus Paulus Rubens in het Museum Boijmans (1933)
Schilderkunst uit de eerste hand, Olieverfschetsen van Tintoretto tot Goya (1983)
The Collection Enriched (2011)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
Geographical origin Southern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

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All about the artist

Peter Paul Rubens

Siegen 1577 - Antwerpen 1640

The Antwerp painter Peter Paul Rubens was appointed court artist to the Duke of Mantua in Italy at a young age. In 1603 he travelled to Madrid, where he was...

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