Pallas and Arachne (Primary Title)

Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577 - 1640 (Artist)

oil on wood
Unframed: 10 1/2 × 15 in. (26.67 × 38.1 cm)
Framed: 20 × 24 in. (50.8 × 60.96 cm)
In Greek mythology, the mortal Arachne was widely renowned for her mastery of the art of weaving. She foolishly challenged the Roman goddess Pallas Minerva to a weaving contest, and Pallas rose to the challenge with a tapestry illustrating the dreadful fates suffered by mortals who dared to challenge the gods. Arachne’s submission presented scenes exposing the destructive passions and treachery of the gods. The tapestry in the background of this painting provides a glimpse at one of these scenes: the abduction of the Phoenician princess Europa by the god Jupiter, who has transformed himself into a beautiful white bull. Driven by envy, Pallas scrutinized Arachne’s work, but could not find a single flaw. In the foreground of the painting, the enraged goddess batters Arachne without mercy, which caused the terrified mortal to hang herself in despair. The tale ends with Pallas transforming Arachne into a spider doomed forever to weave pale, silvery webs.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Metapintura. Un Viaje a la idea del arte, Museo del Prado, Madrid, November 15, 2016 - February 19, 2017.

Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) Paintings and Drawings, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Three Oil Sketches, Salander O’Reilly Galleries, Inc., New York, NY, November 15, 1989- January 27, 1990

Le Siècle de Rubens, Royal Museum, Brussels, Belgium, October 15 - December 12, 1965

Esquisses de Rubens, Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium, 1937

L’Art Flamand du XVième siècle, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, Belgium, 1934

Rubenstentoonstelling, Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1933

Rubens Exhibition, Dowdeswell Gallery, London, 1912

L’Exposition d’Art Ancien, Brussels, 1910
Kawase, Yusuke, ed. Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: The Golden Age in the Museo Del Prado. Tokyo: Yomiuri Shimbun, The National Museum of Western Art, 2018. p. 59, b&w illus.

Frontisi-Ducroux, Françoise. "Pour Intelligence De Poètes. Arachné. Les Liens Sacrés Du Tissage." NOTO 10.2017: 60-65. (illus p 64)

Portús, Javier. Metapintura. Exh. Cat. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2016. p. 194, fig. 3.26, color illus.

Napoli, Giuseppe di. Nell’occhio del pittore. Torino: Einaudi, 2016. p. 34, fig. 10, color illus.

Hellwig, Karin. Aby Warburg and Fritz Saxl enträtseln Velázquez: Ein spanisches Intermezzo zum Nachleben der Antike. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2015. p. 45, fig. 12 color illus; p. 69, fig. 25, detail.

Barolsky, Paul. Ovid and the Metamorphoses of Modern Art from Botticelli to Picasso. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013. (No. 60, p. 146).

Knox, Giles. The Late Paintings of Velazquez: Theorizing Painterly Performance. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009. (P. 63).

Campana, Claudia. El Arte de la Cita Velazquez en la Obra de Bru y Cienfuegos. Santiago, Chile: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2008. (No. 10, p. 37).

Barriault, Anne with Kay M. Davidson. Selections from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007. (pp. 220-221).

Portus, Javier, ed. Velazquez’s Fables: Mythology and Sacred History in the Golden Age. Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007. (P. 293).

Montanari, Tomaso. Velázquez e il ritratto: Frans Hals, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Anton Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer, Fra' Galgario. Milan: Il Sole 24 Ore, 2007. (P. 118).

Finaldi, Gabriele. Velazquez Las Meninas. London: Scala Publishers Ltd., 2006.

Alpers, Svetlana. The Vexations of Art: Velazquez and Others. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. (Pp. 151-152).

Krieger, Verena. "Arachne als Künstlerin. Velázquez' Las hilanderas als Gegenetwurf zum neuplatonischen Künstlerkonzept." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 65, no. 4 (2002). (Pp. 549-550).

Brown, Jonathan, et al. Velàzquez, Rubens, Van Dyck: Pintores cortesanos del S. XVII. Madrid: El Viso, 1999. (No. 16, p. 38-39).

Bachmann, Ingrid and Ruth Scheuing, ed. Material Matters: The Art and Culture of Contemporary Textiles. Toronto: YYZ Books, 1998. (Pp. 164-169).

Barriault, Anne. Selections: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1997. (P. 58).

Held, Jutta and Norbert Schneider. Sozialgeschichte der Malerei vom Spät-mittelalter bis ins 20. Jahrhundert. Köln: DuMont Buchverlag, 1993. (Pp. 288-290).

Kimura, Shigenobu and Shuji Takashira. Journey into the Masterpieces: Time through Painting, 17th Century II. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd., 1993. (Nos. 1-8, p. 21).

Herausgegeben von Ekkehard Mai und Hans Vlieghe, Von Bruegel bis Rubens Das goldene Jahrhundert der flämischen Malerei exhibition catalogue (Köln: Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Verlag Locher, 1992) pp. 129-130, Abb. 10.

Umberger, Emily. “Velazquez and Naturalism II, Interpreting Las Meninas.” Res 28 (Autumn 1995). (No. 3, pp. 100-101, 103-105).

Do Poorter, Nora. “Von Olympischen Gottern, Homerischen Helden und einem Antwerpener Apelles.” In Von Bruegel bis Rubens Das goldene Jahrhundert der flamischen Malerie. Edited by Ekkehard Mai and Hans Vlieghe. Koln: Verlag Locher, 1992. (P. 130).

Near, Pinkney. “European drawings and paintings to 1900.” Antiques, VMFA issue (August 1990). (P. 264).

Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) Paintings and Drawings, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Three Oil Sketches. New York: Salander O’Reilly Galleries, Inc., 1989. (No. 31, p. 67-68).

Scribner III, Charles. Peter Paul Rubens. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1989. (No. 39, p. 118).

McKim-Smith, Gridley, et al. Examining Velazquez. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. (No. 51).

Dundas, Judith. “Archne’s Web: Emblem into Art.” Emblematica 2, no. 1 (Spring 1987). (No. 10, pp. 113-114).

Stapleford, Richard and John Potter. “Velazquez’ Las Hilanderas.” Artibus et Historiae 15 (1987). (P. 159-182).

Held, Julius. The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens: A Critical Catalogue. Volume II. Princeton: Princeton University Press for the National Gallery of Art, 1980. (Pp. 254, 258-259).

Boudouin, Frans. Pietro Paulo Rubens. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1977. (No. 178).

Svetlana Alpers, “The Decoration of the Torre de la Parada,” Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, London/NY: Phaidon Press, 1971, pp. 73, 74, 97, 156, 160, 178, 179, fig. 60.

European Art in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1966, cat. No. 41, p. 30, color detail p. 24.

J.A. Emmens, “Las Menines de Velasquez Miroir des Princes Pour Phillipe IV,” in Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art, 1961, p. 56, illus. fig. 5.

Leo van Puyfelde, Les Esquisses de Rubens, Les Ed. Holbein Bale, 1940, p. 40.

Exquisses de Rubens, exh. Cat., Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique, Brussels, 1938, p. 101, no. 103.

Exposition d’art Flamand du XVième siècle, exh. Cat., Palais de Beaux Arts, Brussels, 1934, no. 38.

Rubenstentoonstelling, Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1933.

Rubens Exhibition, Dowdeswell Gallery, London, 1912.

Tresors de L’Art Belge au XVII Siècle, exh. Cat., Brussels, 1910, Vol. I, p. 104, illus.

Max Rooses, L’Oeuvre de P.P. Rubens, Vol. III, p. 11, no. 504.

Rudolph Odenbourg, Klassiker der Kunst: P.P. Rubens, des Meisters Gemaelde, 4th ed., p. 474, 487, illus.
Collection of the Duke of Infantado. [1] Collection of the Duc de Pastrana, Madrid. Collection of the Duc d'Osuna, Madrid. Collection of Michel van Galder, Uccle. (Newhouse Galleries, New York) by 1958; Purchased by Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Richmond, Virginia in May of 1958. [2]

[1] Unconfirmed. Art historian Julius S. Held includes collection in the provenance for the object in his catlaogue of oil sketches by Rubens. Held refers to the painting as
"Arachne Punished by Pallas." See Julius S. Held, The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens: A Critical Catalogue, Volume I (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 258.

[2] Accessioned May 14, 1958.

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.