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The bath of Diana

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  • Larroumet asked

    I am working on a subject concerning the place of mythology in Rubens work.
    Would it be possible to have the details concerning this painting (like a historical note?)
    - The subject
    - When it was bought or offered to your museum
    Many thanks for your help,
    Best regards,
    Caroline Larroumet

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Caroline,

    The subject is Greek goddess Diana, taking a bath with her nymphs. It is a scene from the story of Diana and Actaeon. Actaeon is a hunter, who happens to stumble upon the bathing scene and saw the chaste goddess completely naked. When Diana and her nymphs discover that they are being watched, they try to hide their nudity. Diana punishes Actaeon for his voyeurism by changing him into a deer, upon which he is torn to pieces by his own hunting dogs. In the 17th century, this punishment can be explained as a the punishment for the lust that is provoked when seeing female nudity. However, the representation is popular because under the guise of admonition, beautiful naked women could be depicted.
    The canvas is a fragment of a bigger painting. The left part showed Actaeon who came from behind a tree, spying upon Diana and her nymphs. When and why the work was cropped is unknown. In the 17th century the work was in the possession of Armand-Jean de Vignerot du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu (1629-1715), grandnephew and heir of the famous cardinal Richelieu. From a description of the collection becomes clear that the mutilation took place before 1712. Rubens based this painting on a work by Titiaan with the same subject matter. An example of this work can be found in our collection, namely: Anonymous (after Titiaan, 'Diana and Actaeon'.) http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/object/3610. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has this piece on loan from the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed 1948. It belonged to the former collection Koenigs. Hopefully this information will be of use, good luck. Tanja


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More information


Title The bath of Diana
Material and technique Oil on canvas
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width 120 cm
Height 152.5 cm
Artists Schilder: Peter Paul Rubens
Accession number 2296 (OK)
Credits Bruikleen / Loan: Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed 1948 (voormalige collectie / former collection Koenigs)
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1948
Age artist Between 58 and 63 years old
External exhibitions Rubens - Poussin, influences croisées (2010)
In het spoor van Rubens (2009)
Behind the Curtain. Concealment and Revelation since the Renaissance (2016)
Zoet&Zout (2012)
Research Alma
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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