“Battle of the Amazons” by Peter Paul Rubens
“Battle of the Amazons” by Peter Paul Rubens depicts a battle of the warlike women called Amazons from Ancient Greek mythology. In this depiction, the Amazons are losing the fight with the Greek horsemen charging headlong into combat and the Amazons falling in defeat. Rubens has created a whirlwind composition that is a dazzling Baroque masterpiece.
Rubens’s artistic narrative is anchored around the arch of the bridge, which forms a center that encircles the flow of movement of the combatants. The surging movement throws the opposing forces together with the Amazons being hurled from their horses down into the river.
Rubens has created a perspective that delivers depth to the relief-like composition that represents the battle between Theseus’s Athenians and the women-warriors.
Controversy: Rubens or Anthony van Dyck?
The Battle of the Amazons is attributed to Rubens, though the biographer Giovanni Pietro Bellori has attributed it to Anthony van Dyck.
In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a tribe of warrior women believed to live in Asia Minor. The Amazons fought on the side of Troy against the Greeks during the Trojan War.
Archaeological discoveries of burial sites with female warriors on the Eurasian Steppes suggest that the Scythian women may have inspired the Amazon myth. Their name has become a term for female warriors in general. According to legend, the Amazons also invented the cavalry.
Amazon warriors were often depicted in a battle against Greek warriors in classical art. In works of art, Amazons were depicted in the manner of Scythian horsewomen, and their preoccupation was hunting and war. The model in the Greek mind was the goddess Athena and later Artemis, wearing a thin dress, girt high for speed.
Amazons can also be identified in vase paintings by the fact that they are wearing one earring. The battle between Theseus and the Amazons called the Amazonomachy is a favorite subject on the friezes of temples, vases, and sarcophagus reliefs.
In Greek mythology, Amazonomachy was one of the various mythical battles between the Ancient Greeks and the Amazons, a nation of all-female warriors. The subject was popular in ancient Greek art.
Warfare was a popular subject in Ancient Greek art, represented in grand sculptural scenes on temples and Greek vases. In Greek art, Mythical battles were preferred, and scenes from Homer and the Amazonomachy were a popular choice.
Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish artist who is considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition. Rubens specialized in making altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects. His compositions referenced classical and Christian history and emphasized movement, color, and sensuality.
Ancient Galilee boat at Kibbutz GinossarRubens often made engravings following the completion of his works. These copies were even collected, and other artists used these engravings as the basis of their works. The etchings and prints helped to increase the popularity of Rubens’ works during his lifetime.
Battle of the Amazons
- Title: Battle of the Amazons
- Artist: Peter Paul Rubens
- Year: 1618
- Medium: Oil on panel
- Dimensions: Height: 121 cm; Width: 166 cm
- Type: Mythological Paintings
- Museum: Alte Pinakothek
Peter Paul Rubens
- Artist: Peter Paul Rubens
- Born: 1577 – Siegen, Nassau-Dillenburg, Holy Roman Empire
- Died: 1640 (aged 62) – Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands
- Nationality: Flemish
- Movement: Flemish Baroque, Baroque
- Major Works:
Highlights of the Alte Pinakothek
- “The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine” by Lorenzo Lotto
- “Odysseus and Nausicaa” by Pieter Lastman
- “Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight” by Albrecht Dürer
- “Portrait of Madame de Pompadour” by François Boucher
- “Madonna of the Carnation” by Leonardo da Vinci
- “The Rest on The Flight into Egypt” by Anthony van Dyck
- “Honeysuckle Bower” by Peter Paul Rubens
- “Battle of the Amazons” by Peter Paul Rubens
Explore Germany’s Museums
- The Pergamon Museum
- new museum
- Old museum
- Old National Gallery – National Gallery (Berlin)
- Bode Museum
- Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
- Spy Museum Berlin
- Jewish Museum, Berlin
- German Historical Museum – German Historical Museum
- DDR Museum
- German Resistance Memorial Center
German Proverbs and Quotes
- “My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings.” – Peter Paul Rubens
- “I’m just a simple man standing alone with my old brushes, asking God for inspiration.” – Peter Paul Rubens
- “White is poison to a picture: use it only in highlights.” – Peter Paul Rubens
“My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings.”
– Peter Paul Rubens
Photo Credit: 1) Peter Paul Rubens [Public domain]