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“Battle of the Amazons” by Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens - Battle of the Amazons

“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.

Amazons

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.

Amazonomachy

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

“Battle of the Amazons” by Peter Paul Rubens

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Genius of Rubens

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“My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings.”
– Peter Paul Rubens

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Photo Credit: 1) Peter Paul Rubens [Public domain]

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