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  • Union of Earth and Water (Antwerp and the Scheldt)

    Artist:
    Rubens, Peter Paul (Pietro Pauolo). 1577-1640; Snyders, Frans. 1579-1657
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    222,5x180,5 cm

Rubens, Peter Paul (Pietro Pauolo). 1577-1640; Snyders, Frans. 1579-1657

Union of Earth and Water (Antwerp and the Scheldt)

Flanders, Circa 1618

In order to embody the union of the two elements, Rubens took figures from Classical mythology: resting on the trident is the god of the sea, Neptune, representing Water, whilst Cybele (Mother of the Gods), with the horn of plenty in her hand, is Earth. The prosperous union of Earth and Water, bringing mankind wealth and plenty, is blessed by the goddess of Victory, who descends from Mount Olympus, and is heralded on a conch by the Triton, who has raised himself up from the watery depths. The sculptural treatment of these painted figures is evidence of Rubens's great respect for Classical art. The source of inspiration for Cybele was in fact the famous statue of the Resting Satyr by Praxiteles (Vatican, Rome). At the same time, the pyramidal composition, built on principles of symmetry and balanced forms, the sensuous treatment of the naked bodies and the warm golden-brown colouring, all indicate the influence of the Italian Renaissance, particularly of Venetian artists, whom Rubens idolised. But in turning to the traditional theme of the elements, Rubens filled it with contemporary meaning, linking it with burning contemporary questions of great importance to his native land: in the union of Earth and Water, Rubens depicted the union of Antwerp and the River Scheldt, the mouth of which was then blocked by the Dutch, depriving Flanders of an outlet to the sea. Thus Rubens united myth and reality, nature and man, Antiquity and national history.

Title:

Union of Earth and Water (Antwerp and the Scheldt)

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

222,5x180,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage between 1798 and 1800

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-464

Category:

Collection:

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