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  • Marie de' Medici as Athena Pallas

    Artist:
    Rubens, Peter Paul (Pietro Pauolo). 1577-1640
    Technique:
    oil (grisaille painting)
    Dimensions:
    22,5x15 cm

Rubens, Peter Paul (Pietro Pauolo). 1577-1640

Marie de' Medici as Athena Pallas

Flanders, 1622

Originally part of an altar, this work takes its subject from a description of the life of St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo and one of the Fathers of the Church. Augustine was trying to comprehend the dogma of the divine Trinity as he walked along the seashore when he saw a small boy removing water from the sea with a spoon and pouring it into a hole. When Augustine asked him the purpose of what he was doing, the child answered that any attempt by the human mind to comprehend the mystery of the nature of God was as vain and hopeless as seeking to remove all the water from the sea with a spoon. Having said this, he disappeared. Fra Filippo Lippi was possibly the first artist to take up this rare subject. He depicts the mystical event as a real scene taking place amongst the hills of his native Tuscany. Instead of the sea he showed a stream, and in the distance to the left we see the bend of a river and the towers of a small town. In the upper right corner is a three-faced sun, a symbol of the Trinity. The high horizon and the small hills and trees, as compared with the figures, testify to the artist's mastering of the principles of linear perspective.

Title:

Marie de' Medici as Athena Pallas

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil (grisaille painting)

Dimensions:

22,5x15 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1772; acquired from the collection of L.A. Crozat, Baron de Thiers in Paris

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-511

Category:

Collection: