Dulwich Picture Gallery II


Peter Paul Rubens DPG285

DPG285 – Venus, Mars and Cupid

1635; canvas, 195.2 x 133 cm, consisting of two pieces of linen (see Technical Notes)

?Don Juan Tomás Enríquez de Cabrera, 9th Admiral of Castile (1597–1647), Madrid, 1647 inv., no. 379 (valued at 3,000 reales);1 ?Juan Gaspar de Cabrera, 10th Admiral of Castile (1625–91), 1647–91, 1691 inv., no. 82;2 ?Louis-Philippe, duc d’Orléans (1674–1723), Paris (seen by an artist related to Watteau before 1720, see Related works, no. 3c) [5]; ?Orléans collection, 1727 Dubois inv. no. 98, 1785 inv., 12,000 livres; bt Thomas Moore Slade (in conjunction with Lord Kinnaird, Mr Morland and Mr Hammersley), 1792; sale, unknown auction house, London, April 1793 (not in Lugt), lot 6 (‘Mars, Venus, and Cupid by Rubens’; from the Orleans Gallery);3 ?Benjamin van der Gucht (d. 1794) sale, Christie’s, 11 March 1796 (Lugt 5420), lot 42 (‘Rubens – Mars, Venus, and Cupid, undoubtedly painted after Rubens had studied the works of Titian and Veronese, whose taste of colouring and composition he has joined to his own lively imagination – it was ever esteemed one of his finest pictures in the Orleans collection’); sold to Egles [?Eyles], £136.10;4 ?Michael Bryan sale, Coxe, London, 19 May 1798 (Lugt 5764), lot 19, sold or bt in, £94.10;5 ?sale (seller A), Schley & Vinkeles, Amsterdam, 27 April 1803 (Lugt 6614), Appendix, lot A; bt C. Josi, ƒ129;6 ?Michael Bryan sale, Coxe, London, 8 May 1804 (Lugt 6800), lot 76 (‘Rubens – Mars and Venus’); sold or bt in, £101.17;7 not in Insurance 1804; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 5, no. 40 (‘Skylight room / no. 10, Mars, Venus, Cupid &c. 1st in Armour, others naked – C[anvas] Rubens’; 7'7" x 5'6").

?Dubois de Saint-Gelais 1727, p. 414;8 ?Thiéry 1787, i, p. 244;9 Cat. 1817, p. 17, no. 335 (‘FIFTH ROOM – West side; Mars, Venus, and Cupid; Rubens’); Haydon 1817, p. 399, no. 335;10 Cat. 1820, p. 17, no. 335 (Rubens); Buchanan 1824, i, p. 288, see Provenance (19 May 1798); Patmore 1824b, pp. 91–2, no. 327;11 Cat. 1830, p. 16, no. 351; Cat. 1831–3, p. 16, no. 351 (‘a fat fleshy dropsical hussey – Colouring certainly to the life – but alas no grace. The figure of Mars is fine but the face somewhat old – as for little Cupid he seems to like the brandy bottle’); Smith 1829–42, ii (1830), pp. 196–7, no. 704;12 Jameson 1842, ii, pp. 503–4, no. 351;13 Clarke 1842, no. 351;14 Denning 1858, no. 351;15 not in Denning 1859; Lavice 1867, pp. 180–81 (Rubens, no. 2);16 Sparkes 1876, p. 154, no. 351 (in pencil: travail d’élève (work of a pupil));17 Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 142, no. 351 (Rubens);18 Richter & Sparkes 1892, p. 77, no. 285; Rooses 1886–92, iii (1890), pp. 188–9, no. 704: le tableau est un travail d’élève où Rubens a peu ou point mis la main (the painting is the work of a pupil on which Rubens has done little or nothing);19 Duro 1902, p. 202, no. 379 (for the reference to a ‘Mars and Cupid’ in the 9th Admiral’s collection); Rooses 1903, p. 495 (probably painted in London; Peace (in Related works, no. 2b) [3] became Venus in DPG285; is the man Mars?); Richter & Sparkes 1905, p. 77, no. 285; Dillon 1909, pp. 156, 215, pl. 318 (Lady Gerbier probably sat for Peace (Related works no. 2b) and Venus); Rosenberg 1911, p. 335 (fig.); Stryienski 1913, p. 188, no. 471;20 Cook 1914, p. 177, no. 285; Oldenbourg 1921, pp. 330, 468 (c. 1630);21 Cook 1926, pp. 165–6; Whitley 1928a, p. 253; Grossmann 1948, pp. 55–6 (fig. 40); Shipp 1954 (Related works, no. 3a); Cat. 1953, p. 35; Paintings 1954, pp. 18, [60]; Parker & Mathey 1957, i, p. 45, under no. 308 (Related works, no. 3c) [5]; Martin 1970, pp. 119, 123 (note 18), under no. 46 (Related works, no. 2b);22 Baumstark 1974, pp. 157–8 (chamber music; after Related works, no. 2b; Venus is depicted in both pictures); Köhler-Lutterbeck 1975, pp. 101–9, 179 (note 198; c. 1636/7); Hermann-Fiore 1979, pp. 119, 247 (fig. 49b); Held 1980, i, p. 627, under no. A5; Murray 1980a, p. 114; Murray 1980b, p. 25; Lecaldano 1980, ii, pp. 164–5, no. 1032 (1635–40); Hughes 1980, pp. 161, 163 (fig. 6); Sutton 1984b, p. 361–2 (fig. 8); Bodart 1985, p. 199, no. 884; Jaffé 1989, pp. 314–15, no. 974 (c. 1630); Chorley 1994; Jaffé (finest autograph painting by Rubens in the DPG); McClure & Chorley 1995; Vergara 1995, pp. 35, 36, 38 (no. 82 and note 20), 39 (notes 32 and 35); Rosenberg & Prat 1996, iii, p. 1178, under no. R111 (Related works, no. 3c); Phillips 1997, pp. 153–5, 163 (note 38), 211–13, fig. 44; Healy 1997, pp. 153, 206 (note 73); Belkin 1998, pp. 282 (fig. 191), 284; Beresford 1998, pp. 212–13, 218 (notes 27, 28); Vergara 1999, pp. 175, 177, 244 (note 161; the entry in the 1647 inv. probably refers to DPG285); Shawe-Taylor 2000, pp. 44–5; Denk 2000, pp. 165, 171 (note 43, fig. 7, see Related works, no. 3c); Denk 2001, pp. 97–8, 105 (note 43), see Related works, no. 3c (fig. 8); Van Hout 2004c, p. 426; Healy 2004, p. 47 (note 4); Rosenthal 2005, pp. 48–52, 59, 251 (notes 35, 38, 39) (fig. 10; c. 1630), 251–2; Sluijter 2006, p. 409 (note 49); Büttner 2006b, pp. 71, 188 (note 52), fig. 19; Heinen 2009, pp. 26 (note 30), 27 (fig. 15); Stefes 2011, ii, p. 478, under no. 885, iii, p. 333 (fig.; Related works, no. 1a) [2]; Heinen 2011, pp. 33, 35–7 (fig. 2), 39, 40, 46 (DPG285 must have preceded Related works, no. 2b [3] (Peace and War)); Finckh & Hartje-Grave 2012, p. 38 (fig.), p. 300 (fig.); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 199–202, 214; Schmid 2018, p. 136, 245 (no. 399), ill. 7.4 (colour) on p. 136; RKD, no. 55276: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/55276 (July 18, 2019).

London/Leeds 1947–53, n.p., no. 39 (L. Burchard, c. 1636–7); London 1950–51, pp. 97–8, no. 226; London 1953–4, p. 60, no. 177 (c. 1635); Antwerp 1977, pp. 232–3, no. 100 (1635–40); London 1979;23 London 1995, pp. 29–32, no. 2 (M. Jaffé, McClure & Chorley, mid-1630s); Japan 1999, p. 167, no. 25 (D. Shawe-Taylor); Houston/Louisville 1999–2000, pp. 136–7, no. 40 (D. Shawe-Taylor); Munich 2001, pp. 170–73, no. 19 (C. Denk); Lille 2004, p. 104, no. 52 (H. Vlieghe, c. 1635); Brunswick 2004, pp. 303 (fig.), 308–11, no. 83 (U. Heinen).

The canvas is made up of two pieces of medium plain-weave linen (lined), joined horizontally across the lower part of Venus’s legs. The original tacking margins are present in part, and cleaning revealed two additional vertical lines of tack-holes (within the original and current composition), perhaps indicating that the picture was reduced in size and tacked onto a narrower stretcher for a period of its history. There are numerous old tears and holes in the canvas support, and a noticeable – mostly horizontal – craquelure all over the paint surface, raised in some places. The main piece of canvas shows cusping along all four edges, while the lower piece does not have cusping along its top edge. This suggests that the main section was stretched and a ground applied before the lower piece was added, and that this was cut from a similarly prepared piece of canvas. There is no evidence to show painting had started before the canvas was enlarged and it seems likely that Rubens had large pieces of prepared canvas in his studio, which he joined as required.

The ground layer structure, as determined by cross-sections, is closely similar on each side of this join, also suggesting that the assemblage was always of a piece and not extended downwards separately. The constitution of the ground (a lower layer of calcium carbonate with an upper priming of mid-grey oil paint, composed largely of lead white with charcoal black) is of a type commonly found on canvas paintings produced in Antwerp, by Rubens and others, at times both before and after Rubens’s visit to England.24 Evidence from the cross-sections and X-ray suggests that a horizontal strip of mid-brown paint was applied over the ground to disguise the presence of the canvas join.25

The blue drapery of Venus has degraded significantly in the shadows, primarily due to the discolouration of the blue pigment smalt. The highlight areas of this drapery are painted in high-quality natural ultramarine (lapis lazuli) mixed with white, which has now blanched to a certain extent. In conjunction with the discoloured smalt used in the darker areas, the modelling and volumetric effect in the drapery has been partially lost, and contrast between light and shadow has increased artificially due to these pigment changes.

X-ray [1] and infrared imaging show a number of pentimenti.26 The position of Venus’s head was slightly changed and the red curtain extended over sky to reach her head and left shoulder. Cupid’s left leg was bent so that his foot rested behind Venus’s knee; his right leg has also been altered slightly, and there are changes to his head, which was lower. Venus’s left leg originally stretched out from the knee towards the right of the picture. The technical images also show that Venus originally had more drapery hanging down behind her legs, crossing in front of the outstretched left leg and coming up over her lap to hang down, covering her right thigh. Both images also reveal an effect that the degrading of the smalt no longer makes appreciable on the surface – the tautening of the piece of fabric clutched by Cupid. This effect would have done much to counteract the impression that this figure is defying gravity or slipping backwards. In fact, Cupid would have appeared to be hauling himself upwards.

Previous recorded treatment: 1911, relined, Holder; 1970, conserved, Dr Hell; 1994, lined and conserved (including technical analysis), Hamilton Kerr Institute.

1a) Copy (before Rubens made changes): Studio of Peter Paul Rubens, Venus, Mars and Cupid, black chalk, 264 x 179 mm. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, 1963–639 [2]27
1b) (in reverse) Copy (after 1a): Mars, Venus and Cupid, etching, 281 (paper) x 200 mm (paper). Teylers Museum, Haarlem, KG 17493.28
Related compositions associated with Rubens
2a) ?Peter Paul Rubens, Mars, Venus, and Cupid, c. 1628–30, oak panel, 34.2 x 26.1 cm. Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, 798B.29
2b) Peter Paul Rubens, Minerva protects Pax from Mars (Peace and War), 1629–30, canvas, 203.5 x 298 cm (on seven pieces of canvas). NG, London, NG46 [3].30
2c.I) Peter Paul Rubens, Meleager and Atalante, c. 1635, canvas, 199.9 x 151.3 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, 355.31
2c.II) Copy (after Peter Paul Rubens): Meleager and Atalanta, c. 1635, panel, 56.5 x 45 cm. Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Trier (on loan from the Bundesschatzministerium, no. 5742).32
2d.I) Peter Paul Rubens, The Creation of the Milky Way (Juno nursing Hercules), 1636, panel, 26.7 x 34.1 cm (one of twelve oil sketches for the Torre de la Parada, Madrid). KMSKB, Brussels, 4105.33
2d.II) Peter Paul Rubens, The Creation of the Milky Way (Juno nursing Hercules), 1636–8, canvas, 181 x 244 cm (part of the decoration of the Torre de la Parada). Prado, Madrid, 1668.34
2e.I) Peter Paul Rubens, Mars and Venus (Allegory of Peace), c. 1617, canvas, 170 x 193 cm. Hermitage, St Petersburg (previously Stiftung Preussische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg, GK I 2284; in 1720 sent to Berlin; in 1632 in Noordeinde Palace, The Hague).35
2e.II) (studio of) Peter Paul Rubens, Mars and Venus, canvas, 167 x 186 cm. Cassa di Risparmio di Calabria e Lucania, Cosenza.36
2e.III) Rubens’s Cantoor (Willem Panneels) after Peter Paul Rubens (2e.I), Mars disarmed by Venus, 1628–30, black chalk, pen, brown ink on yellowish paper, c. 139 x c. 148 mm. SMK, Copenhagen, Rubens’s Cantoor.37
2e.IV) (in reverse) Anonymous Flemish after Peter Paul Rubens (2e.I), Mars and Venus, c. 1650–1700, inscriptions in Dutch, etching, 406 (trimmed) x 460 mm. BM, London, 1891,0414.855.38
2f) Peter Paul Rubens (and studio?), Allegory of Peace (Minerva defends Pax against Mars), c. 1630–32, canvas, 231 x 340 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, 343.39
2g) Peter Paul Rubens, The Victorious Hero takes Occasion to conclude Peace, black chalk, watercolour and bodycolour, 383 x 477 mm. Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Weimar, KK 5068.40
Copies after DPG285 (or a similar composition)
3a) (modello? or after Rubens?), oil on panel, 43.1 x 31.8 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (N. Fischmann, London, 1954).41
3b) Engraving by Bolswert.42
3c) Unknown French artist (previously attributed to Jean-Antoine Watteau) after DPG285 (?), Venus, Mars and Cupid, red and black chalk and bistre wash, 200 x 148 mm. Musée Bertrand, Châteauroux [4].43
3d) Copy (after DPG285; Mars in different armour; Cupid completely different): Venus, Mars and Cupid, canvas (?), 101 x 77 cm. Maurice Lecomte collection, Rouen.44
3e) Copy (after DPG285; with the figure of Cupid in a different pose): Venus, Mars and Cupid, panel, 40.5 x 25 cm. In 1996 in the Wolfgang Körner collection, Vienna (formerly Gustav Schütz collection, Vienna, Ehrenmitglied der Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Wien, 1937).45
3f) Copy (after DPG285): Venus, Mars and Cupid, canvas (?), 163 x 114 cm. D. Heinemann, Munich (Photo RKD).
3g) Copy: in George Scharf sketchbook, Venus, Mars and Cupid, 1859. National Portrait Gallery, London, 57 NPG7/3/4/2/68, p. 18 [5].46
3h) Copy (after DPG285): possibly William Etty, Venus, Mars and Cupid, canvas, 78.5 x 62.5 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Douglas Chome Wilson, 2013).47
3i) Copy (after DPG285): c. 1900, canvas, unknown dimensions. Present whereabouts unknown (Photo RKD).48
3j) Copy (after DPG285; only Venus and Cupid): Venus and Cupid, canvas, 185 x 122 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (sale 29 Oct. 1928; M. Arot Freviez collection, ? [unknown city in France or Belgium] 29,000 fr.).
3k) Copy (after DPG285): David Wilkie, Mars, Venus and Cupid, panel, 10 x 11½ p. [sic], present whereabouts unknown (sale Lambert-Théodore Nieuwenhuys, Brussels, Étienne le Roy, 11–12 April 1855, lot 78).49
Earlier compositions by other artists
4a) Titian, Allegory of Marriage (‘Allegory of Alfonso d’Avalos’), c. 1531–2, canvas, 123 x 107 cm. Louvre, Paris, 754.50
4b) Jacopo Tintoretto, Vulcan, Venus and Amor, c. 1550–55, canvas, 85 x 197.4 cm. Palazzo Pitti, Florence, 1912, no. 3.51
4c) Jacopo Tintoretto, The Origin of the Milky Way, c. 1575, canvas, 149.4 x 168 cm. NG, London, NG1313.52
4d) Paolo Veronese, Mars and Venus united by Love, 1570s, canvas, 205.7 x 161 cm. MMA, New York, John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910, 10.189.53
4e) Otto van Veen (Vaenius) and (?) Peter Paul Rubens, Typus Inconsulte Iuventute or Allegory of the Temptations of Youth, c. 1595, panel, 146 x 212 cm. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, NM 666.54
5a) Albrecht Dürer, The Penance of St John Chrysostom, c. 1496, monogram AD, engraving, 183 x 120 mm. BM, London, 1868,0822.186 [6].55
5b.I) Titian, Venus with a Mirror, c. 1555, canvas, 124.5 x 105.5 cm. NGA, Washington, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.34.56
5b.II) Rubens and workshop of Titian (5b.I), Venus and Cupid with a Mirror, canvas, 137 x 111 cm. Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid, 1957.5.57
5c.I) Athenian (2nd–1st century BC), Hellenistic copy after Praxiteles (c. 350 BC), Medici Venus, marble, h 153 cm. Uffizi, Florence, 1914, no. 224.58
5c.II) Hendrick Goltzius, Venus Pudica, c. 1591, black chalk on blue paper, white heightening, 337 x 118 mm. Teylers Museum, Haarlem, K III 032.59
5c.III) Roman (AD 100–200) after a Hellenistic copy after Praxiteles (c. 350 BC), Mazarin Venus, marble, h 184 cm. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 54.AA.11.60
5c.IV) Early Antonine copy of a late Hellenistic statue derived from the Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles, Capitoline Venus, marble, h 187 cm. Musei Capitolini, Rome.61
5d) Sostanza, woodcut, in Ripa 1603, p. 468.62
5e) Jean Goujon, Octagonal fountain, woodcut in Colonna 1561, p. 23.63
5f) Rembrandt, A Nude Woman with a Snake, c. 1637, red chalk touched with white, 24.7 x 13.7 cm. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 81.GB.27.64
5g) (attributed to) Jan Boeckhorst after 2c (Rubens’s Meleager and Atalante), Mary Magdalen, signed P. Rubens (in another hand), brush, black chalk, brown wash, 23.1 x 15.8 cm. Département des Arts Graphiques, Louvre, Paris, 20429.65
See no. 4a.
6) Roman, relief of Tellus Mater with two babies on the eastern side of the Ara Pacis, 13–9 BC, marble. Ara Pacis Museum, Rome [7].66
Later compositions by other artists
7a) Jan Lievens, Mars and Venus, 1653, canvas, 146 x 136 cm. Stiftung Preussische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg, since 2001 in the Oranienburg, GK I 2573.67
7b) Luca Giordano, Venus, Cupid and Mars, 1663, panel, 152 x 129 cm. Museo di Capodimonte (Farnese collection), Naples.
7c) Luca Giordano, Rubens painting the Allegory of Peace, c. 1660, canvas, 337 x 414 cm. Prado, Madrid, P190.68

Lent to the RA to be copied in 1816, 1831, 1837, 1840, 1851 and 1877.

Peter Paul Rubens
Mars, Venus and Amor, c. 1630-1635
canvas, oil paint 195,2 x 133 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 285


X-ray of DPG258.

studio of Peter Paul Rubens
Venus, Mars and Cupid, c. 1635
paper, black chalk 264 x 179 mm
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, inv./cat.nr. 1963-639

Peter Paul Rubens
Minerva protects Peace from Mars (Peace and War), 1629-1630
canvas, oil paint 203,5 x 298 cm
London, National Gallery (London), inv./cat.nr. NG46

Anonymous, French, 17th century
Venus, Mars and Cupid
paper, black and red chalk, brown wash 200 x 148 mm
Châteauroux (Indre), Musée Bertrand

Sir George Scharf (1820-1895)
Copy of Rubens' Venus, Mars and Cupido (DPG285) and of Cornelis de Vos' Maria Van der Goes (1555-1642) (DPG290), dated 1859
paper, pencil ? x ? mm
London, National Portrait Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 57 NPG7/3/4/2/68, p. 18 and 19

Albrecht Dürer
The Penance of S John Chrysostom, c. 1496
paper, engraving 183 x 120 mm
London (England), British Museum, inv./cat.nr. 1868,0822.186

Anonymous, Roman
Tellus Mater with two babies
marble 161 x c. 240 cm
Rome, Museo dell'Ara Pacis

This is the only large painting by Rubens in the Dulwich Gallery, and almost the only one that is not a modello for another picture. The other exceptions are DPG131 (Hagar in the Wilderness) and DPG143 (Portrait of a Lady), which are both smaller and look sketchy or are unfinished. Rooses in 1890 was convinced that DPG285 was painted by a pupil, without giving any reason.69 Recently Heinen voiced more or less the same opinion (Rubens and Studio (?)), again without providing any evidence or argument, considering in 2011 that ‘the very schematic face of Venus seems to have been overpainted by an assistant later’.70 Yet, while X-ray [1] and infrared reflectography reveal that Venus’s head was altered during painting, close examination does not reveal any obvious overpaint. Heinen, citing Murray 1980a, suggested that there are visible pentimenti on Mars’s arm, indicating that his armour once reached to his wrist whereas it now covers only the upper arm.71 Both X-ray and infrared reflectography reveal changes in this area, but it is not clear what was originally painted.

Something else that supports Rubens’s authorship is the changes shown in a drawing and an etching that record an earlier phase of the evolution of DPG285 (Related works, nos 1a–b) [2] and shown in the X-ray. The drawing, now in Hamburg, shows the figure of Venus in a position that technical images of the Dulwich picture have revealed: her left leg, partially covered by drapery, originally stretched out to the right in front of the shield, which in the drawing does not have a Medusa’s head. In the drawing Cupid’s upper right knee is exposed, but is hidden by drapery in the painting, while Venus’s right shoulder is bare in the drawing but covered in the painting. Whereas there was a gap between the curtain and Venus in the drawing, the curtain is larger in the painting. The X-ray, however, indicates that the Hamburg drawing does not show Cupid’s earliest position: his left leg was originally angled down from Venus’s thigh, clear of the drapery on her lap. There are also changes to Cupid’s face. The changes in the painting suggest that it was a ‘work in progress’ in which assistants could have had a hand, as in most of Rubens’s larger compositions, but there is no reason to regard the whole painting as a workshop product. It could be that the rather awkward position of Cupid is one of the reasons for questioning Rubens’s authorship. Analysis of the technical data of the degraded draperies near Venus’s left leg, however, shows that Cupid originally appeared to be hauling himself upwards (see Technical Notes). Baumstark in 1974 mentioned the strong visual parallel between Cupid and the two babies in the Tellus relief on the Ara Pacis in Rome (Related works, no. 6) [8]. He supposed, however, that Rubens had not seen the Ara Pacis, since no drawings after the reliefs by Rubens or his circle are known.72 But the Tellus relief was in the collection of the Medici, where Rubens could have seen it (in the 1930s it was taken into the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome).73 Heinen pointed this out in 2004, noting too that the visual source for the strange position of Cupid in DPG285 is indeed the baby on the left side of the Tellus relief (in reverse); the baby on the right side can be seen to the right of Pax (in the same direction) in the closely related painting Minerva protects Pax from Mars or Peace and War (Related works, no. 2b [3], see below). Rubens must have seen the relief (or copies of it).

An unusual feature of the picture is the portrait-like head of the figure of Mars, which might be a portrait historié – in a tradition where in a picture with a mythological or biblical subject the main characters are given portraits of contemporary people.74

The children in Rubens’s Peace and War, mentioned above, have been identified as portraits of the children of his friend Balthazar Gerbier d’Ouvilly, a painter-diplomat in the service of Charles I. It is possible that Pax in the same picture was Deborah Kip, Gerbier’s wife.75 The very similar Venus in DPG285 might also be Deborah Kip, but why should she be depicted here? The portrait-like quality is perhaps the reason why Sir George Scharf, who in 1857 became Secretary of the National Portrait Gallery, and later its Director, on one of his many tours around the British Isles sketched DPG285 in 1859, along with some other portraits in the Dulwich Gallery worden (see DPG290; Related works, no. 3g) [5]. Did Scharf think that the picture was a portrait historié? There is no sign thereof in his notes next to his drawing. However in the courtly cultures of the 17th century portraits historiés are known: Jan Lievens (1607–74) painted a Mars and Venus in 1653 (Related works, no. 7a) that – at least according to Coutré in her 2013 article – features the portraits of Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg (1620–88) and his consort, Louise Henriette (1627–67), one of the daughters of Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange (1584–1647) and Amalia van Solms-Braunfels (1602–75).

Mars and Venus were popular in these Hague circles: another picture by Rubens listed in 1632 was also of Mars and Venus, in this case hidden behind a red curtain (Related works, no. 2e.I); we do not know whether this was a portrait historié or not. There Mars is, as in DPG285, shown being disarmed by putti.

Whether DPG285 was a commission or not is unknown, nor is there evidence of its exact date relative to the National Gallery painting, which was in any case given to Charles I by Rubens in 1630. It is possible that like Peace and War it referred to the current political situation in London, where Rubens, as Spanish envoy, was busy trying to achieve peace between England and Spain. In that case Venus would be England and Mars would be Spain.76 It would be tempting to suppose that Mars is a portrait of one of the Spanish diplomats present in London at the time. DPG285 may be the picture recorded in Spain in 1691 in a posthumous inventory of the possessions of the notable collector Juan Gaspar de Cabrera (1625–91), 10th Admiral of Castile (see Provenance). He had a Rubens room with 21 pictures by the Flemish master.77 While Vergara in both 1995 and 1999 offers this provenance only as a possibility, the description given for no. 82 in the inventory matches DPG285, although Rubens is known to have produced many copies and versions of his inventions; it was then in a black frame with gold mouldings.78 It might well have been inherited from his predecessor with the title, Don Juan Tomás Enríquez de Cabrera (1597–1649), who is also recorded as owning a Venus, Mars and Cupid.79

DPG285 could also be the picture in the French collection of Louis-Philippe, duc d’Orléans (1674–1723), where an artist related to Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) made a drawing after it some time before 1720 (Related works, no. 3c) [4].80 There are, however, small differences. In the French drawing the curtain has a different fold and there is more space between the shield and the leg of the day bed, and in DPG285 there seems to be more space to the left of Venus. These differences could imply that the copyist was looking at a different picture or that he was not very precise. The Orléans picture was imported into England in 1792 during the turmoil of the French Revolution. Thereafter, several pictures with this subject are mentioned in sales around 1800 in London and abroad (see Provenance); as is often the case, no dimensions are given. There also seem to have been several versions of the subject by Rubens and his studio (see for instance Related works, nos 3d, and the other copies mentioned under 3).

Venus presses her breast to give milk to her son Cupid, who was born from her union with Mars, the God of War, while the father is watching.81 Mars is depicted as having just returned from war; his shield is standing on the ground and parts of his armour have already been removed, while a putto behind him continues to disarm him. There may be a specific reference in this image to the opening of Lucretius’s De rerum natura (I.1–49) with its invocation of Venus, who subdues Mars and his warlike instincts through love and thus brings peace; in any case the painting can readily be interpreted symbolically.82 Indeed, there is a close relationship with the National Gallery’s Peace and War (Related works, no. 2b) [3]. For Lucretius Venus is the life-giving force (Venus genetrix) that causes all creatures to mate and reproduce each generation. Rubens painted Mars and Venus a number of times (Related works, nos 2a, 2e.I–III, 2f).

In the creation of his composition Rubens may have been inspired by a number of sources in addition to the Ara Pacis relief, such as a woodcut of Sostanza (Nourishment) in Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia (1603) (Related works, no. 5d). She is depicted as a standing woman whose breasts are splashing milk on the ground, with the additional attributes of ears of corn and grapes to offer an image of abundance. Rubens made several other pictures with a Venus giving milk. More usual in mother-child images is the scene in the Allegory of Peace in Munich (Related works, no. 2f; see also under DPG165, Related works, nos 2a–b) [3]. We see her splashing milk again in the Stockholm picture of the Allegory of the Temptations of Youth to a design by Rubens’s master Vaenius, which may have been painted by the young Rubens (Related works, no. 4e). One can assume that the splashing of milk in DPG285 refers to abundance, brought about by peace. According to Denk, a source for the family-like scene in DPG285 could be a woodcut from the School of Fontainebleau in a French edition of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francesco Colonna (Related works, no. 5e).83 Gregory Martin in 1970 linked Venus’s pose with that of the princess in Penance with St John Chrysostom by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528; Related works, no. 5a) [6].84 There however we see only the arm with the hand pressing the breast to feed her baby; her other arm is not visible. Rubens himself reused the image of a mother splashing milk in the mouth of her baby in the Creation of the Milky Way, composed in 1636–8 for the Torre de la Parada (Related works, nos 2d.I–II). There it is Juno with the baby Hercules, son of Jupiter and Alcmene, and Jupiter seated in the background, a scene similar to that in DPG285. Hercules hurt Juno and as a consequence milk was spilt, being the origin of the Milky Way.85 Because of the similarity to the Torre de la Parada picture DPG285 is dated around 1635.86

The Dulwich painting also shows the influence of Venetian paintings such as Paolo Veronese’s Venus and Mars (1570s; Related works, no. 4d), where Mars is shown from the side and being disarmed (and also has a bare forearm); Venus is also expressing milk from one of her breasts, but there is no Cupid to receive the milk. Rubens shows the influence of Titian in the figure of Mars, which is composed with numerous sweeping and rapid brushstrokes; in Titian’s Allegory of Marriage (‘Allegory of Alfonso d’Avalos’), now in the Louvre (c. 1530–35; Related works, no. 4a), for example, we see ‘Alfonso d’Avalos’ in the same position as Mars, not with a bare forearm, but wearing a red shirt under his armour. That painting was in the royal collection in London when Rubens was there.87 The figure and features of Venus recall Titian’s nudes, such as the Venus with the Mirror, now in Washington (Related works, no. 5b.I); she also has her forearms crossed over her body, but in reverse to DPG285, a motif that Rubens used again for Atalante in his composition of Meleager and Atalante (Related works, no. 2c.I–II).

Another visual source for Venus with her forearms almost parallel and crossed over her body are the many Roman copies after the Aphrodite by Praxiteles (c. 395–c. 330 BC), such as the Medici Venus and the Capitoline Venus (Related works, nos 5c.I–IV). The many references to older imagery, especially to Antique sculpture, raises the question whether the audience was supposed to recognize these quotations (see also under DPG451). Rubens’s pictures may have been discussed, for instance in his studio in York House in London, where Gerbier lived and where the collection of the Duke of Buckingham, who was murdered in 1628 (see also under DPG143), was still visible.88 Heinen in 2011 suggests that Rubens as a Spanish envoy used his pictures, and the conversation around them, as a means to win the trust of English courtiers in his attempts to make peace between England and Spain.89

The picture that we know Rubens made in London is Peace and War, now in the National Gallery. It and DPG285 are closely related. We have already noted that Venus looks very much like the seated Pax, Goddess of Peace (Related works, no. 2b) [3]. The figures in the centre of the National Gallery picture are almost as large, but the figures are closer together in DPG285. Pax is suckling a young boy, who is standing next to her instead of seeming to be ‘defying gravity or slipping backwards’ (see Technical Notes) as in DPG285. The boy is her son Pluto, who represents wealth. Other interpretations see her as Venus, who nourishes her son Cupid, referring more generally to fertility.90 The difference between the two pictures is that in the National Gallery composition Mars is chased away by Minerva since he endangers peace, whereas in DPG285 Mars is tamed.91 That Rubens had taken inspiration from the Tellus relief for the babies in DPG285 and the National Gallery picture, two pictures about the desirability of peace and what is called in Latin ex pace ubertas (prosperity comes from peace), is very appropriate, since Tellus represented Peace, brought about by the Roman Emperor Augustus.92 According to Heinen 2011 it would seem logical that DPG285 was made as a starting point for the Allegory of War and Peace, thus while Rubens was still in London. But the technical evidence, in particular the different nature of the ground layers in the two pictures, suggests that Venus, Mars and Cupid was not painted in England: it must have been created either before or after Rubens’s visit. In support of Heinen 2011, on the other hand, the argument could be that Rubens had taken prepared canvases from Flanders to London, on one of which he had painted DPG285, but they had run out when he started on War and Peace. In any case it ‘seems likely that Rubens had large pieces of prepared canvas in his studio, which he joined as required’ (see Technical Notes).

One of the most controversial aspects of the picture in the 19th century was that milk was spurting from Venus’s breast into Cupid’s open mouth. C. J. Cockburn, the Justice adjudicating Queen v. Hicklin in 1867, the case that provided the first legal standard for determining obscenity in both England and the USA, asked at the trial: ‘What can be more obscene than many pictures publicly exhibited, as the Venus in the Dulwich Gallery?’93 According to Mrs Jameson, the milk was painted away by Bourgeois. When it came back is not known, but Burchard, visiting the Gallery on 26 May 1939, saw two (or three?) rays of milk.94 But also in general this picture was considered ugly, and expecially the Venus in it, typically Flemish and typically Rubens (‘large and fat’).95 Comments include ‘naked country lass, fat and plump’ (annotation in a 1796 auction catalogue); ‘that gross, boisterous, and altogether unclassical manner’ and ‘the effect of the whole is extremely repulsive’ (Patmore 1824); ‘sadly devoid of those ideal forms of beauty and expression so indispensable to give value and interest to classic and poetical subjects’ (Smith 1829–42, in 1830); ‘the forms being in some parts even vulgar, as for instance the feet of Venus’ (Richter & Sparkes 1880). Nevertheless DPG285 was lent six times to the Royal Academy Schools to be copied (in 1816, 1831, 1837, 1840, 1851 and 1877): pupils could learn something here. We do not know of copies or influence in 19th-century London (as with DPG127, Van Dyck).

Peter Paul Rubens
Mars, Venus and Amor, c. 1630-1635
canvas, oil paint 195,2 x 133 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 285


X-ray of DPG258.

studio of Peter Paul Rubens
Venus, Mars and Cupid, c. 1635
paper, black chalk 264 x 179 mm
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, inv./cat.nr. 1963-639

Peter Paul Rubens
Minerva protects Peace from Mars (Peace and War), 1629-1630
canvas, oil paint 203,5 x 298 cm
London, National Gallery (London), inv./cat.nr. NG46

Anonymous, French, 17th century
Venus, Mars and Cupid
paper, black and red chalk, brown wash 200 x 148 mm
Châteauroux (Indre), Musée Bertrand

Sir George Scharf (1820-1895)
Copy of Rubens' Venus, Mars and Cupido (DPG285) and of Cornelis de Vos' Maria Van der Goes (1555-1642) (DPG290), dated 1859
paper, pencil ? x ? mm
London, National Portrait Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 57 NPG7/3/4/2/68, p. 18 and 19

Albrecht Dürer
The Penance of S John Chrysostom, c. 1496
paper, engraving 183 x 120 mm
London (England), British Museum, inv./cat.nr. 1868,0822.186

Anonymous, Roman
Tellus Mater with two babies
marble 161 x c. 240 cm
Rome, Museo dell'Ara Pacis


1 See Duro 1902, p. 202, no. 379: Un lienzo de la diosa Venus y Marte y Cupido, es de Rubens (A canvas of the goddess Venus and Mars and Cupid, by Rubens).

2 Quoted from Vergara 1995, pp. 36, 38: Pieza de Rubens, Tiene con sus Marcos negros y alquitraves dorados las Pinturas siguientes ... 82. otra Pinttura en lienzo que tiene de Altto dos Varas y terzia y de Ancho Una y media y Tres dedos en que se ve a Benus desnuda Senttada Cubiertta Con vn Paño azul por la Zinttura y la mano derecha puestta en vn pecho y del Salttan vnos Vaíos de leche que Se sirve vn Cupidillo en la voca, y a los pies tiene Una solfaua [?] y Arco y vna Rodela Y a un lado esta Marte Armado Y descubierta la Caueza. (In the Rubens room, with black frames and gold mouldings, there are the following paintings. […] 82. another painting on canvas two and a third varas [204 cm] in height and in width one and a half and three dedos [126 cm], where one can see a naked Venus seated, covered with a blue cloth over her waist [?] and her right hand over one breast from which milk jets out that a small cupid takes [in his mouth], and by her feet he has a [solfaua?] [a quiver?] and a bow and a shield, and on one side is Mars armed and with his head uncovered.)

3 GPID (5 Aug. 2014).

4 GPID (5 Aug. 2014); NB: Annotations in the copy in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston: ‘The Venus looks a naked country lass, fat and plump, squeezing one of her breasts for I don’t know what purpose. Mars a lean warrior dressed as 100 years ago.’

5 Buchanan 1824, i, p. 288: ‘Rubens. – Mars, Venus and Cupid. Evidently painted after Rubens had studied the works of Titian and P. Veronese, whose taste of colouring and composition he has imitated in this fine picture, which is from the Orleans collection [£] 94.10.0’. The same text is in GPID (5 Aug. 2014).

6 543 Un Magnifique Tableau, representent Venus & Mars, peint par P. P. Rubbens, ce morceau à apartenu, au feu Roi de Pologne, & a été vendu à un tres haut prix, a sa vente, a St. Petersbourg. (A magnificent picture, depicting Venus & Mars, painted by P. P. Rubbens, this piece belonged to the late King of Poland, & was sold for a very high price at his sale in St Petersburg.) Here a link with Poland is suggested, hence a link with the Desenfans collection. However this picture was not in the so-called ‘Polish sale’ of 1802 (Desenfans 1802). This provenance with the Amsterdam sale is given by L. Burchard in London/Leeds 1947–53, Sutton 1984b, pp. 361–2 (fig. 8) and Murray 1980a. Email from Burton Fredericksen to Paul Matthews, 17 Jan. 2003 (DPG285 file). According to Fredericksen this provenance, 1798 London sale to a sale in Amsterdam in 1803, is very unlikely: ‘The traffic almost never moved in that direction [i.e. from London to Amsterdam] especially during a time of war (although there was a truce in 1802).’ He adds: ‘The 1803 sale is one of those I analyzed for the first volume of the Census of Paintings sold in the Netherlands, and the lot in question was sold for a price of 129 guilders, not an appropriate price for a big picture like the one at Dulwich. The description does not mention Cupid, and the dimensions are not given; the link is based on the mention of the painting having belonged to the ex-King of Poland, and that it had fetched a very high price at his sale in St. Petersburg. But your picture had not been in St. Petersburg, so far as we know, and I don’t think the reference is trustworthy. This painting was one of a large group consigned by “A” who, of the four consigners, owned the most paintings. Almost all of these were Italian and Flemish paintings that brought very low prices, and the Rubens is the only one with a provenance. I think I can trace one other lot to a sale in Paris in 1793, but there is nothing to link these paintings to London.’

7 GPID (16 Sept. 2014).

8 Mars et Vénus. Peint sur toile, haut de six pieds deux pouces, large de quatre pieds un pouce. Fig. de grandeur naturelle. La Mere [sic] de l’Amour est assise sur un lit de repos, une draperie bleuë lui cachant le haut des cuisses, Ses cheveux sont atachés [sic] avec des cordons de perles, & elle a un voile qui lui couvre l’épaule droite, & est lié sur son bras avec un brasselet [sic] de pierreries. Elle se presse la mamelle gauche & en fait sortir du lait sur le visage de l’Amour qui la tient par le bras gauche, & a une jambe sur sa cuisse. Mars, sans casque, aiant une cuirasse qu’un petit Amour lui acomode [sic] par derriere [sic], & son bouclier à côté de lui, est assis sur le même lit de repos, contemplant Vénus. Sous les pieds de cette Déesse on voit le carquois de l’Amour. Le fond du Tableau représente à gauche de l’Architecture, & à droite un rideau rouge. (Mars and Venus. Painted on canvas. 6 feet 2 inches high, 4 feet 1 inch wide (French). Life-size figures. The mother of Cupid sits on a day bed, blue drapery hiding the upper part of her thighs. Her hair is held by strings of pearls & she has a veil which covers her right shoulder, & is linked to her arm by a bracelet with stones. She presses her left breast & makes milk spurt out on the face of Cupid who holds her by his left arm, & has a leg on her thigh. Mars, without a helmet, with armour that a little putto is fastening from behind, his shield next to him, sits on the same day bed, looking at Venus. Under the feet of this Goddess you can see Cupid’s quiver. The background of this picture depicts architecture on the left and on the right a red curtain.)

9 (under Collection de Tableaux du Palais Royal, Cabinet de la Lanterne) Mars & Vénus, par Rubens.

10 ‘SIR P. P. RUBENS. Mars, Venus, and Cupid. This fine picture was also honoured by the choice of the Academy for their students in 1816.’

11 ‘this, which is by many degrees the most unamiable [picture in the gallery]. It represents Mars, Venus, and Cupid; but represents them in that gross, boisterous, and altogether unclassical manner, which was the crying fault of Rubens, and which frequently counteracted the effect of his finest efforts of colouring and invention. There is a great manual skill in this picture, and the colouring is, as usual, rich and fine; but the effect of the whole is extremely repulsive, for the reason above stated. In fact, the Venus looks like a Dutch courtesan, the Mars like a rough soldier of the League, and the Cupid like nothing that ever was, in the shape of the human infant.’

12 ‘The attractions of this capital picture consist exclusively in the beauty and freshness of the colouring, the judicious arrangement of light and shade, and the agreeable harmony of tints and general effect. In reference to the figures, it must be owned that they are sadly devoid of those ideal forms of beauty and expression so indispensable to give value and interest to classic and poetical subjects. […] Worth 500 gs. There is an etching of Mars and Venus, anonymous.’ He probably means Bartsch 49 (Related works, no. 1b); Voorhelm Schneevoogt 1873, p. 125, no. 52 ((B. 49) Vénus et Mars. Gravé par un anonyme, à l’eau-forte, sans titre. 14 p. 2 l. de haut, 16 p. 9 l. de large. Cette planche a été retouchée au burin et gâtée.)

13 ‘The head of Mars is a portrait of Rubens when young. Painted with his usual spirit and vigour, all his characteristic splendour of colour, luxuriance of fancy, and coarseness of feeling. Originally Venus was represented as pressing the milk from her bosom into the mouth of Cupid: an idea which Rubens frequently repeated, and which seems to have been with him a favourite image of fecundity. Sir Francis Bourgeois painted this out, and the alteration is visible. […] Engraved by Bolswert.’ See Related works, no. 3b.

14 ‘Very fine, but a strange compound of feeling and bad taste. The head of Mars is a portrait of Rubens when young.’

15 ‘Venus Mars and Cupid. Rubens […] (Smith 704). From the Orleans Collection, and subsequently in the possession of Mr Vandergucht [inserted: whence sold for 130 guineas.] and Mr Bryan. Mars is a portrait of Rubens himself when young. Engraved by Bolswert. There is also an anonymous etching. It was bought at Mr Bryan’s sale for £94.10.0. Cf: Buchanan Memoirs. (Vol: I p: 288) […]’ Then follows a quote from Smith and ‘He values this at 500 guineas.’

16 Vénus, pressant avec deux doigts un de ses seins, semble l’offrir au petit Cupidon qu’elle regarde et qui cherche à escalader la cuisse de sa mère. A droite, Mars cuirassé, la tête nue dans l’ombre. Vénus est une beauté d’Anvers. Elle ramène en souriant un pan de son manteau bleu pour cacher sa nudité. Belle lumière. Carnations lymphatiques bien rendues. (Venus, pressing one of her breasts with two fingers, seems to offer it to the little Cupid that she looks at and who tries to climb up his mother’s thigh. On the right Mars in armour, bareheaded, in the shadow. Venus is a beauty from Antwerp. Smiling, she rearranges a fold of her blue coat to hide her nudity. Beautiful light. Lymphatic complexions well rendered.)

17 ‘Mars, whose head is a portrait of the painter […] Engraved by Bolswert. Also an etching – anonymous’.

18 ‘Although the conception is by no means an idealistic one, the forms being in some parts even vulgar, as for instance the feet of Venus, there is still much to be admired in the very spirited execution, in the glowing power of the colours, and especially in the humorous liveliness of the boy. Painted in the master’s latest period.’

19 He adds: La galerie de l’académie de Vienne possède une petite copie de cette pièce. Il en existe une gravure anonyme non décrite. (The gallery of the Vienna Academy has a small copy of this piece. There exists a anonymous engraving that is not described.) Rooses also refers to a picture with Venus and Mars is the collection of Prince Frederik Hendrik (p. 189), which is probably the picture by Jan Lievens in Berlin (Related works, no. 7a). The etching is described by Voorhelm Schneevoogt (1873, p. 125, no. 52; Bartsch 49); see Related works, no. 1b.

20 Mars et Vénus, Dubois 411; Inv. III: 12.000 l.; Cat. Wilson, no. 6. Vente Van der Gucht (1796): 13 guineas; Vente Bryan (1798): 90 guineas. Dulwich Gallery, no. 285.

21 Ob die Berliner Skizze [] als Vorarbeit für dieses Bild aufgefaszt werden darf, is fraglich (Whether the Berlin sketch [Related works, no. 2a, with a standing Venus] next to it is the modello for it is questionable).

22 p. 119: ‘The pose of the top half of Pax is repeated in the Dulwich Mars and Venus […] perhaps executed at about the same time’ (as Related works, no. 2b); p. 123 (note 18): ‘The pose of Venus, apart for the left arm, nearly corresponds to that of the woman in Dürer’s print of the Penance of S. John Chrysostom’ (Related works, no. 5a; Fig.).

23 This publication has no list of exhibited pictures.

24 Examples of this type of ground on canvas paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and others have been identified in works in the NG, London: see for example that on the Judgement of Paris (NG194) from the 1630s in Oliver 2005, p. 13, pl. 12; also that in the Brazen Serpent (NG59), 1635–40, unpublished NG file report (Scientific Department). For Van Dyck’s Portrait of a Woman and Child (NG3011), c. 1620–21, see Roy 1999a, p. 51, pl. 4. By contrast, Rubens’s Peace and War (NG46), painted in England 1629–30, has two ground types on the extended canvas assemblage, neither of which is close in constitution to the paintings produced in Antwerp: see Roy 1999b. This argument is not very convincing because it is based only on one example of which we know that it was certainly made in England. The counter-argument could be that Rubens had taken prepared canvases from Flanders to London (on which he had painted DPG285), but they had run out when he started Peace and War.

25 Further technical analysis, including cross-sections either side of the canvas join, a new X-ray and infrared imaging, was undertaken at the NG, London, by A. Roy and R. Billinge in 2015.

26 Heinen (2011, p. 37) saw some additional pentimenti: ‘Possibly some visible pentimenti in the face of Mars and Venus may indicate that suitable to this disarming, Rubens changed the facial expression of his actors.’

27 RKD, no. 294063: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/294063 (Aug. 30, 2019); see also https://www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de/sammlung-online/peter-paul-rubens/venus-mars-und-amor (Aug. 30, 2019); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 199, fig. 27, under DPG285; Stefes 2011, ii, p. 478, no. 885, iii, p. 333 (fig.): ricordo, c. 1630–40.

28 RKD, no. 294066: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/294066 (Aug. 30, 2019); see also https://www.teylersmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/kunst/kg-17493-mars-venus-en-cupido (July 25, 2019); Burchard in London/Leeds 1947–53 (A preparatory sketch is recorded in an etching); Rooses 1886–92, iii (1890), p. 188, no. 704 (as not described; see note 19 above); Voorhelm Schneevoogt 1873, p. 125, no. 52; Smith 1829–42, ii (1830), p. 197. Could this print be what the several authors meant when they referred to an engraving by Bolswert (see Related works, no. 3b, note 42 below)?

29 RKD, no. 291880: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/291880 (Aug. 30, 2019); Held 1980, i, pp. 626–7, no. A5 (under ‘Questionable and Rejected attributions’), fig. 60, ii, pl. 477. As Oldenbourg already said (see note 21 above), this picture is not neccessarily related to DPG285.

30 RKD, no. 49978: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/49978 (July 25, 2019); see also https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/peter-paul-rubens-minerva-protects-pax-from-mars-peace-and-war (July 25, 2019). According to Adamson 2016 the picture was not presented during the farewell audience, as is generally said, but earlier, since it was already finished in December 1629 (p. 146). Adamson suggests that it was a New Year gift from Rubens to the King (p. 152); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 200, fig. 30, under DPG285; Rosenthal 2005; Roy 1999b (for the seven pieces of canvas see p. 91 (fig. 2)); Martin 1970, pp. 116–25, no. 46.

31 RKD, no. 38785: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/38785 (Aug. 30, 2019); Renger & Denk 2002, pp. 362–4, no. 355.

32 RKD, no. 294609: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/294609 (Aug. 30, 2019); Held 1980, i, p. 341, no. 252, ii, pl. 451.

33 RKD, no. 248253: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/248253 (Aug. 30, 2019); see also https://www.fine-arts-museum.be/nl/de-collectie/peter-paul-rubens-juno-voedt-hercules?letter=r&page=21 (July 25, 2019); Vander Auwera, Van Sprang & Rossi-Schrimpf 2007, pp. 254–5, no. 102 (B. Schepers); Rubens 2004, pp. 171–2, no. 94 (H. Devisscher); Jaffé 1989, p. 360, no. 1292; KMSKB 1984, p. 451, no. 4105; Held 1980, i, pp. 284–5, no. 200, ii, pl. 209; Alpers 1971, p. 240, no. 42a, fig. 150; D’Hulst 1968, p. 113, no. 48, fig. 49.

34 RKD, no. 248249: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/248249 (Aug. 30, 2019); see also https://www.museodelprado.es/coleccion/galeria-on-line/galeria-on-line/obra/el-nacimiento-de-la-via-lactea/?no_cache=1 (July 25, 2019); Rubens 2004, pp. 171, 173, no. 95 (H. Devisscher); Díaz Padrón 1996, ii, pp. 924–5, no. 1668; Jaffé 1989, p. 360, no. 1293; Alpers 1971, pp. 239–40, no. 42, fig. 149.

35 RKD, no. 274113: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/274113 (Aug. 30, 2019); Held 1980, i, p. 102 (under no. 60), c. 1615–17, previously in Königsberg; Van Gelder 1951, pp. 115, 119 (fig. 8); inv. 1632: Een stuck schildery van Mars en Venus, door Rubbens gemaect, daervoor is hangende een roode armosyne gardyne (A painting of Mars and Venus, made by Rubens, in front of which is hanging a red silk curtain), with thanks to Jaap van der Veen for help with the translation, email Jaap van der Veen to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 21 Oct. 2014 (DPG285 file); Evers 1943, pp. 270–71 (Rinaldo and Armida instead?), fig. 292. See also Coutré 2013, p. 4 (fig. 7); according to her the Mars and Venus is c. 1617.

36 Bodart 1990, pp. 132–3, no. 46 (after 1625); related to a now lost Allegory of Peace, at one time in the Noordeinde Palace of Amalia van Solms (Related works, no. 2e.I).

37 Not on the website (10 Aug. 2014); Bodart 1990, p. 132 (fig.), under no. 46; Garff & De la Fuente Pedersen, 1988, i, pp. 181–2, no. 245, ii, pl. 248.

38 https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1891-0414-855 (Aug. 2, 2020); Evers 1943, p. 270 (note 25), fig. 293; Voorhelm Schneevoogt 1873, p. 121, no. 15.

39 Renger & Denk 2002, pp. 382–3, no. 343 (Rubens); Jaffé 1989, p. 318, no. 993 (studio of Rubens; simplified version of 2b); Baumstark 1974, p. 173, fig. 32.

40 RKD, no. 201072: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/201072 (Aug. 30, 2019); Burchard & D’Hulst 1963, i, pp. 258–60, no. 168, ii, fig. 168.

41 According to Shipp 1954 this picture was in an exhibition in Bordeaux in 1954. It could not be found in the catalogue (Huyghe & Van Puyvelde 1954), although N. Fischmann is thanked on p. 13; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 202, copy, no. 1.

42 This engraving is mentioned by Jameson 1842, Denning 1858, and Richter & Sparkes 1880, but cannot be found. Could they mean the etching by an unknown 17th-century artist (Related works, no. 1b)?

43 RKD, no. 295402: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/295402 (Oct. 8, 2019); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 202, copy, no. 3; not in Joconde (7 Aug. 2014); Denk 2001, pp. 97–8 (fig. 8), after Rubens previously in the duc d’Orléans collection, Musée Betrand [sic], Chateauroux; Denk 2000, pp. 165 (fig. 7), 171 (note 42); Rosenberg & Prat 1996, iii, p. 1178, R111 (under Dessins rejetés (rejected drawings); ne manque pas de qualités (no lack of qualities); L. Burchard in London/Leeds 1947/1953 ‘at Châteauroux […] shows Mars’ forearm in armour, traces of which are visible in the painting’.

44 Letter from Maurice Lecomte to Richard Beresford, undated; return letter on behalf of Richard Beresford, 29 Jan. 1997 (DPG285 file).

45 Letter from Gustav Schütz to Miss Robinson, 18 Aug. 1937 (DPG285 file). Rooses mentioned a copy of DPG285 as being in the gallery of the Akademie in Vienna, which is possibly this picture. Rooses 1886–92, iii (1890), p. 188: La galerie de l’académie de Vienne possède une petite copie de cette pièce (The gallery of the Vienna Academy has a small copy of this piece).

46 RKD, no. 288808: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/288808 (Aug. 25, 2020): ‘GS Dulwich Gallery Nov 8th 1859’ [left of photograph image]: ‘The picture of Mars, Venus & Cupid No 351 is colder in tone & browner than usual with Rubens, it is more like Van Dyck; I believe, as with [stricken: like of] Correggio no juvenile attempts of Rubens are on record.’

47 Emails in DPG285 file (Jan.–Feb. 2013).

48 RKD, no. 71677: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/71677 (July 25, 2019).

49 Cette esquisse est peinte d’après le Rubens qui se trouve dans la galerie de Dulwich College, et fut vendu avec tous ses autres objets après le décès de Wilkie. (This sketch is painted after the Rubens in the gallery of Dulwich College, and was sold with all his other objects after the death of Wilkie). The dimensions do not agree with DPG285, which is much higher than wide.

50 Joconde (8 Aug. 2014); Heinen 2011, pp. 36–7 (fig. 3); Humfrey 2007, p. 140, no. 91; Wethey, iii, pp. 127–9, no. 1; figs 68–71.

51 Chiarini & Padovani 2003, ii, p. 443, no. 733 (A. Tartuferi); Palluchini & Rossi 1982, i, p. 164.

52 https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jacopo-tintoretto-the-origin-of-the-milky-way (July 25, 2019); Penny 2008, pp. 154–63, no. 1313.

53 https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437891 (July 25, 2019); Pignatti 1976, i, pp. 148–9, no. 248, ii, figs 578, 580.

54 RKD, no. 232898: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/232898 (July 25, 2019); Leuschner 2010, pp. 66–9, fig. 1; Rosenthal 2005, pp. 51–6 (fig. 12); Hughes 1980, p. 161, where Venus (with Bacchus et al.) tries to lead a youth to the path of pleasure (a kind of Hercules at the Crossroads); Minerva tries to prevent her. ‘The seduction is bizarrely represented by the milk’; Baumstark 1974, pp. 158–9 (fig. 21).

55 RKD, no. 295230: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/295230 (Oct. 10, 2019); see also https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1868-0822-186 (Aug. 2, 2020); Rosenthal 2005, pp. 51, 53 (fig. 11); Hughes 1980, p. 163 (fig. 7); Hermann-Fiore 1979, pp. 119, 246 (fig. 49a) (In DPG285 of 1632 [sic]) sind gleichfalls die Proportionierung nach Dürer und die Motive des schamhaften Sitzens, der Lactatio und der Balance der Figuren verbunden, Rubens’ kleiner Amor vollführt geradezu Akrobatik. (In DPG285 of 1632 [sic] the proportions according to Dürer and the motifs of sitting with shame [i.e. with her legs together], the suckling and the balance of the figures are also connected; Rubens’s little Cupid practically performs acrobatics); Martin 1970, p. 123 (note 18).

56 https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.41.html (July 25, 2019); Heinen 2011, pp. 36, 38 (fig. 4); Humfrey 2007, p. 260, no. 194; Wethey 1969–75, iii (1975), pp. 200–201, no. 51.

57 Wood 2010b, i, pp. 190–97, no. 124, ii, fig. 74.

58 RKD, no. 236353: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/236353 (Aug. 31, 2019); see also https://www.uffizi.it/en/artworks/medici-venus (Aug. 31, 2019); Heinen 2011, pp. 54–5; Van der Meulen 1994–5, i (1994), pp. 59–60, ii (1994), p. 72, under nos 58–9, iii (1995), fig. 105; Haskell & Penny 1982, pp. 325–8, no. 88, fig. 173.

59 RKD, no. 237321: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/237321 (Aug. 31, 2019); see also https://www.teylersmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/kunst/k-iii-032-venus-pudica (July 25, 2019); Reznicek 1961, i, p. 345, no. K 247, ii, fig. 180. NB: the other drawing after the same statue (possibly a version in Naples, Farnese collection) in this museum is according to Reznicek not by Goltzius (Reznicek 1961, i, p. 346, no. K 248 , ii, fig. 181).

60 http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/6477/unknown-maker-statue-of-venus-the-mazarin-venus-roman-2nd-century-ad/ (July 25, 2019); Bober & Rubinstein 1986, p. 61, fig. 15.

61 Haskell & Penny 1982, pp. 318–20, no. 84, fig. 169.

62 Denk 2001, p. 170; Baumstark 1974, p. 156, fig. 18.

63 Denk 2001, p. 170, see also note 83 below (Denk and Colonna).

64 http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/2/rembrandt-harmensz-van-rijn-nude-woman-with-a-snake-dutch-about-1637/ (July 25, 2019); Sluijter 2006, p. 286, fig. 262.

65 Joconde (9 Aug. 2014); Galen 2012, p. 439, no. AZ 11 (not Jan Boeckhorst); Logan 1990, pp. 128, 131 (notes 85–6; attributed to Jan Boeckhorst); Lugt 1949, ii, p. 53, no. 1214 (under School and Manner of Rubens).

66 RKD, no. 294315: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/294315 (Aug. 31, 2019); see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_(mythology)#mediaviewer/File:Tellus_-_Ara_Pacis.jpg (July 25, 2019); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 200, fig. 29, under DPG285; Rossini 2006, pp. 36–45; Baumstark 1974, pp. 161–2 (according to him Rubens had not seen this relief, since no drawings are known; both Rubens and the Ara Pacis sculptor had read Lucretius); Donovan 2004, p. 123 (fig. 81).

67 RKD, no. 271984: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/271984 (Oct. 16, 2020); https://jhna.org/articles/decoration-a-lorange-jan-lievens-mars-and-venus-in-context/ (July 25, 2019); Schacht & Meiner 1999, p. 266–7, no. 8/56.

68 https://www.museodelprado.es/coleccion/galeria-on-line/galeria-on-line/obra/rubens-pintando-la-alegoria-de-la-paz/ (Sept. 15, 2014).

69 Rooses 1886–92, iii (1890), p. 188.

70 Heinen 2004, p. 308; the quote is from Heinen 2011, p. 35 (note 4).

71 Heinen 2011, pp. 36–7, note 9.

72 Baumstark 1974, p. 162.

73 Rossini 2006, pp. 14–17 (until the inauguration of the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome in 1938 the Tellus relief had been in the Medici collection since 1569); Heinen 2004, p. 310. About the Medici collections see Van der Meulen 1994–5, i (1994), pp. 57–60 (the collection of Ferdinando de’ Medici in Rome), 66–8 (the collections in Florence).

74 Mrs Jameson thought it was Rubens himself when young: see note 13 above. At the time it was usual to see all kinds of self portraits and portraits of an artist’s family members in pictures.

75 Martin 1970, p. 121, under no. 46 (Related works, no. 2b).

76 Heinen (2011, pp. 37–8) goes so far as to suggest that the colours refer to the two parties: the blue wrap on Venus’s lap is the colour of the Order of the Garter of the English King and the red drapery behind Mars is the colour of the Habsburgs and the Spanish King’s banner. Even without the colour symbolism it is possible to identify Spain with Mars, who is willingly disarmed and converted to the peaceful English Venus. Adamson 2016 suggests that the enlargement of the original composition had to do with the political circumstances that changed during Rubens’s months in London (24 May 1629 to the end of March 1630). According to Adamson the additions that Rubens painted on the new, added, parts refer to the house of Habsburg, Spain and its colonies. Adamson considers the painting as a new type of diplomatic gift and as a coded admonishment (pp. 168–9)

77 Vergara 1995, p. 34.

78 ibid., p. 38, see note 2 above.

79 Duro 1902, p. 202: see note 1 above; and Vergara 1995, pp. 34–9.

80 DPG285 is among six pictures at Dulwich today that might have been in that collection. (The others are DPG147 (Van der Werff), DPG202 (Le Brun), DPG241 (Raphael), and DPG243 (Raphael).) DPG78 was mentioned as coming from the ‘real’ Orléans collection, but it is now known that it comes from the collection of the Chevalier d'Orléans, a bastard from that family.

81 For a scene where Venus and Cupid are shown with Vulcan as the father figure, see the picture by Tintoretto in the Palazzo Pitti (Related works, no. 4b); there Venus is lying on the ground.

82 Denk 2001, p. 170.

83 Denk 2001, p. 172; the print in the 1564 edition however shows a reclining nymph, whose left breast spurts warm water and her right breast cold water; both spurts end in an octagonal fountain with two basins made of porphyry. A satyr and two satyr children stand next to her. The title of the image is παντων τοκαδι, or à la mère de toutes choses (to the mother of everything), with which we are back to the ideas of Venus genetrix of Lucretius. The image does not really look like DPG285, nor does the description on pp. 22–3 of Colonna 1561.

84 Rubens’s invention probably has nothing to do with other scenes where we see milk coming from a breast, such as the milk in the eye of St Bernard of Clairvaux from the breast of the Virgin, which allegedly took place in 1146 in the Cathedral of Speyer: Büttner & Heinen 2004, p. 310 (U. Heinen). See also Held 2002, p. 101–3, who considers this scene to be eine Kirchliche Umarbeitung der Caritas Romana (a religious revision of Caritas Romana).

85 For the iconography see Held 1980, i, pp. 284–5.

86 Burchard in London/Leeds 1947–53; London 1953–4; Antwerp 1977; London 1995; and Vlieghe in Lille 2004 (see under Exhibitions).

87 Belkin & Healy 2004, p. 246; Brown 2002, pp. 46–7, fig. 13.

88 Rubens had sold Buckingham his collection of antiquities in 1627: see under DPG143.

89 Heinen 2011, pp. 40, 55.

90 ibid., p. 456, rejects the interpretation of the female figure as Venus.

91 Rosenthal 2005, p. 50.

92 Baumstark 1974, pp. 146–52 (ex pace ubertas, about the Banqueting House ceiling); see also Donovan 2004, p. 123 (fig. 81).

93 As Robert J. O’Brien noted in 1995 (DPG285 file), DPG285 must be the work in question, since the other works then on display in Dulwich were all relatively standard depictions of Venus in the nude. As recently as the 1980s a trustee of the Gallery refused to bring his children into the building when DPG285 was on display (Giles Waterfield in conversation with the authors). In 1994 the Christian newspaper Third Way contrasted the picture by Dou (DPG56) with Rubens’s DPG285: where Rubens’s painting was considered obscene in the 19th century, ‘Dou’s Lady playing a Clavichord seems very innocent. In fact it is 17th-century pornography, full of coded sexual invitation’ (see under DPG56).

94 Ludwig Burchard note (RUB, LB no. 771/3: in der Dulwich Leinwand hängt der Knabe, wie die Biene an einem Blütenkelch. und J. Wilde sagte mir in Dulwich, vor dem Bild, 26.V.39: diese Kombination von Violett u. Blau kommt sonst nur einmal noch vor, in Titian´s ‘Bella’ (‘Bella’ underlined in red). (In the Dulwich canvas the boy is suspended like a bee from a calyx, and J. Wilde said to me in Dulwich in front of the picture, on 26 May 1939: this combination of violet and blue occurs only one other time, in Titian’s ‘Bella’ [now in the Pitti collection, Florence]). Zugemalt die zwei Bogen Milch. Drei (?) Bahnen Milch (two or three (?) rays of milk are added).

95 Held in the preface to his oil sketches volumes cites Ernest Hemingway: ‘Do you know anything about art? Rubens, said Catherine, Large and fat, I said.’ Held 1980, i, p. vii. Appropriately the quote comes from the novel called A Farewell to Arms (1929).

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