04 Works, Helenic Carvings & Sculpture, With Footnotes #6

Haut. (bronze) 15,5 cm, haut. (base) 9 cm; height (bronze) 6 in., height (base) 3 1/2 in.
Private Collection

Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. From the second century BC onward, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena,[1] though the Romans did not stress her relation to battle and warfare as the Greeks did. More on Minerva

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Peter Paul Rubens, 1577 – 1640, Minerva protects Pax from Mars (‘Peace and War’), c. 1629-30 01 Paintings, Olympian deities, by the Old Masters, with footnotes, #10b

Peter Paul Rubens, 1577 – 1640

Minerva protects Pax from Mars (‘Peace and War’), c. 1629-30

Oil on canvas

203.5 x 298 cm

The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London

Minerva drives away Mars, god of war, in Rubens’ powerful anti-war painting, a visual plea for peace between England and Spain in 1630, presented as a gift to Charles I from Philip IV

The painting was probably executed in England in 1629-30, illustrating Rubens’s hopes for the peace he was trying to negotiate between England and Spain in his role as envoy to Philip IV of Spain. Rubens presented the finished work to Charles I of England as a gift.

The central figure represents Pax (Peace) in the person of Ceres, goddess of the earth, sharing her bounty with the group of figures in the foreground. The children have been identified as portraits of the children of Rubens’s host, Sir Balthasar Gerbier, a painter-diplomat in the service of Charles I. 

To the right of Pax is Minerva, goddess of wisdom. She drives away Mars, the god of war, and Alecto, the fury of war. A winged cupid and the god of marriage, Hymen, lead the children (the fruit of marriage) to a cornucopia, or horn of plenty. The satyr and leopard are part of the entourage of Bacchus, another fertility god, and leopards also draw Bacchus’s chariot. Two nymphs or maenads approach from the left, one brings riches, the other dances to a tambourine. A putto holds an olive wreath, symbol of peace, and the caduceus of Mercury, messenger of the gods. More om this painting

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.

In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.  More Sir Peter Paul Rubens

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