Diana's return from the hunt - Peter Paul Rubens. 136x184
In 1608, Rubens (1577-1640), returning from Italy to Antwerp, brought with him an interest in the legacy of ancient art and literature, which did not fade in him all his life and became the cornerstone in creativity and reflection on art. He used the plots of Greek and Roman mythology for many of his paintings, especially custom ones.
Goddess Diana Rubens was extremely attracted, because in the myth about her, another favorite theme, hunting, was combined with antiquity. The painter's interest was fueled by his royal and aristocratic patrons: hunting was the exclusive privilege of these circles. The artist created a series of hunting paintings of large format, many of which are based on an antique plot.
Unlike other paintings in which the master conveys the pathos of struggle, in this painting his attention is focused on the beauty of the ancient goddess-hunter. Diana, the defender of female integrity, stands with her companions in front of a group of satyrs, who, by the way, represent another pole of interests for Rubens - everything related to bacchanalia. Diana’s spear sharply demarcates these two groups, two worlds. How different is the appearance of their participants: among the satyrs are goat-footed creatures wild in their passion, surrounded by Diana, who herself exudes the charm of female nature, her divinely beautiful companions. Satyrs demonstrate an abundance of fruit, hinting at how great wine will come from them in the future. In turn, Diana has birds and a hare (symbols of sensual pleasures) that she killed on a hunt. In a symbolic sense, they express its denial of the pleasures offered.
Dutch artists of the 17th century, sometimes having a narrow specialization, often attracted their colleagues when the picture needed to portray something in which they were not strong enough. So, fruits and animals on the presented canvas were painted by Frans Snyders, famous for similar still lifes and images of animals.