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Thetis Dipping the Infant Achilles into the River Styx

Thetis Dipping the Infant Achilles into the River Styx

Peter Paul Rubens (in 1630 - 1635)

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  • Catalina asked

    Hello! I'm an art restoration student who would like to know if any studies have been made on this work, if by chance I could be able to read any publication about it. Thank you.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Catalina,

    I can reach out to the curator of 'Old Masters' at the museum to see if there are any studies. For your question about the publication I woud reach out to bibliotheek@boijmans.nl. If there is any literature published about this artwork, they will be able to tell you.

    Good luck with your studies!

  • Aslı asked

    Hello, I'm Aslı. I'm studying in the archeology department. I am conducting a research to make iconographic and mythological analyzes on this painting of Rubens. I'm running out of time and finding reliable sources is important to me. I would like to benefit from your information by including you in the bibliography. Thank you in advance, good work.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Asli, it will be quite possible to find good information about Greek mythology and the mythe of Achilles. In this oil sketch you see the beginning of the story where his mother Thetis is dipping her son in the river to make him immortal. There also has been written substantially about Rubens' series of oil sketches. You will find literature in every good art library. Good luck with your studies! Els

  • Luis Angel Rodriguez asked

    Who holds the torch in this painting? Who are those dogs?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Luis, Thank you for your question. The torch is held by one of the Fates, a goddess who destines the life of a human being – in this case Achilles. And on the ground is actually just one dog with three heads: hellhound Cerberus. I hope this information is sufficient. Good luck, Els

  • Jeff asked

    The Ringling museum seems to have a similar painting; what is the difference between this version and theirs: http://emuseum.ringling.org/emuseum/objects/22610/achilles-dipped-into-the-river-styx?ctx=c6cd4de8-23d2-4805-b84a-cd765d5bb906&idx=0

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Jeff, the work at the Ringling Museum is the larger 'modello' of this first sketch that Rubens made for a series of tapestries. The modello in turn is the basis for the full scale 'cartoons' which were used during the actual production of the final tapestries. All the best, Rianne

  • tristion asked

    what era was this made

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Tristion, this was made between 1630 and 1635. kind regards, Sophie

  • lewis ashe asked

    Where is this art piece located now?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Lewis, This work is now on view in room 13 of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam! Best, Rianne


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More information

Rubens here depicts the scene in which the sea nymph Thetis dips her son Achilles in the Styx, the river of the underworld. In this way, Thetis wanted to make her son immortal, after an oracle had told her that he would die young in battle. While she dipped him in the water, she held on to him by his foot. Because of this, this area, the proverbial Achilles heel, proved his vulnerable spot. He would ultimately be killed by a poisoned arrow entering his heel. This painting is the first in a series of eight oil sketches which Rubens made in preparation for a series of tapestries

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title Thetis Dipping the Infant Achilles into the River Styx
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width Error: 38,4 is not a valid BCD value cm
Height Error: 44,1 is not a valid BCD value cm
Artists Painter: Peter Paul Rubens
Accession number 1760 (OK)
Credits Gift D.G. van Beuningen, 1933
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1933
Creation date in 1630 - 1635
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)
Lievelingen (2024)
External exhibitions Rubens. Painter of Sketches (2018)
Boijmans bij de Buren - Meesterlijk! (2019)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen @ Rijksmuseum (2023)
Geographical origin Southern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

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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