Pallas and Arachne (Primary Title)

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

1636–37
Flemish
oil on wood
Unframed: 10 1/2 × 15 in. (26.67 × 38.1 cm)
Framed: 20 × 24 in. (50.8 × 60.96 cm)
58.18
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
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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
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Rubenstentoonstelling, Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1933.

Rubens Exhibition, Dowdeswell Gallery, London, 1912.

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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.

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