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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
King Agamemnon must give back his beloved Chryseis to her father, the priest of Apollo, in order to stop the plague. In exchange for his beloved, he took Briseis, the beloved of Achilles, in her place. This scene is the fourth in a series of eight oil sketches. In this depiction of the episode, the enraged Achilles is shown drawing his sword while being restrained by his hair by Minerva. Agamemnon is rising from his throne and is being restrained by his arm by the wise Nestor. After this episode, Achilles refused to take any further part in the war against Troy. Only after the death of his friend Patroclus did Achilles become reconciled with Agamemnon and return to the Greek army. This oil sketch is the fourth in a series of eight oil sketches which Rubens made about the life of Achilles in preparation for a series of tapestries.
The Antwerp painter Peter Paul Rubens was appointed court artist to the Duke of Mantua in Italy at a young age. In 1603 he travelled to Madrid, where he was able to see the paintings of Titian and Raphael in the Spanish court. He subsequently travelled between 1604 and 1608 to Mantua, Rome, Genoa and Milan. He mainly studied the painters Titian and Michelangelo, and was very impressed by the work of Caravaggio, from whom he purchased a canvas. After returning to Antwerp, he worked until his death as court artist to the Spanish regents of the Netherlands. He built a house in Antwerp based on Italian villas, and started a flourishing studio. Countless artists, including such celebrities as Anthonie van Dijck and Jacob Jordaens, were trained in his studio. Rubens left much work to his assistants, but carefully oversaw everything. He was one of the most influential painters of his time and the greatest exponent of the Baroque in the north.
material and technique: oil on panel
kind of object: painting
creditline: Schenking / Donation: D.G. van Beuningen 1933
inventory number: 1760 b (OK)
The modello that Rubens made based on this sketch is in the collection of the Courtauld Institute in London. An X-ray of it shows that the modello was originally an exact replica of the sketch, probably copied by one of Ruben's assistants. But there are all sorts of very important changes in the modello, which were probably added in the final stages by the master himself.