This study for a large-scale painting that once belonged in England in the collections of the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Castle, and was destroyed in a fire that ravaged a wing of this castle in 1861, depicts the abduction of Proserpina.
Following a plot by Venus, Pluto fell in love with Proserpina, the daughter of Ceres and Jupiter, and abducted her.
Rubens depicts the brutality and rapidity of the action wonderfully. Pluto’s gesture, forcefully embracing Proserpina’s body, merges the two figures in a single luminous diagonal in opposition to the dark diagonal formed by Minerva, who is trying to prevent the kidnapping.
Rubens put all his technique into the depiction of this act of violence. On a saffron yellow base, he painted using a cursive stroke with the tip of his brush, and his oil painting technique kept all the graphic qualities of watercolour techniques and even drawing techniques.
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