The Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus

Object Details


The Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus


Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)

and Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish, 1568 - 1625)




about 1610 - 1612


Oil on panel


127.3 x 163.5 cm (50 1/8 x 64 3/8 in.)

Credit Line:

Acquired in honor of John Walsh

See more

See less

Amid the disarray of Vulcan's forge, Venus leans into the embrace of her lover, Mars, who is transfixed by her alluring gaze. Caught up in his attraction to the aggressively seductive goddess, Mars is no longer able to carry out his military exploits. Venus removes his helmet, while mischievous putti cavort with his sword and shield.

In the 1600s, the subject of Venus disarming her lover Mars was understood as an allegory of Peace. Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder's interpretation of the subject, however, emphasizes the fragility of peace. Weapons production continues in the background at the burning fires of Vulcan's hearth, signaling that love's conquest of war may be only temporary.

Rubens and Brueghel, who were close colleagues, collaborated on at least twenty-five paintings. This painting displays each virtuoso's talents: Rubens's robust figural style and Brueghel's intricate still life details. The luminous figure of Venus, the reflective quality of the weapons and armor, and the tactile quality of the lush painting testify to their skill.


Possibly Ferrante Spinelli (Naples, Italy)

about 1700 - about 1800

Possibly Private Collection (Italy)

- about 1890

Duke of Mantua (Italy), sold to a member of the Pennington-Mellor family, about 1890.

about 1890 - 1940

Pennington-Mellor Family (possibly J.P. Mellor) (Castello di Lunghezza, Lazio, Italy; England; Biarritz, France), by inheritance to Hilda Pennginton-Mellor, 1940.


Mrs. Hilda Pennington-Mellor (England), by inheritance to her son Malcolm Munthe, before 1953.

before 1953 - 1981

Major Malcolm Munthe, 1910 - by 1995 (Much Marcle, near Ledbury, Herefordshire, England; Southside House, Wimbledon, England), donated by Major Munthe to the Pennington-Mellor-Munthe Charity Trust, 1981.

1981 - 2000

Pennington-Mellor-Munthe Charity Trust (England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000.

Rubens and Brueghel: A Working Friendship / Rubens en Brueghel: Een artistieke vriendschap (July 5 to January 28, 2007) (Cat. 2)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 5 to September 24, 2006
  • Mauritshuis, (The Hague), October 21, 2006 to January 28, 2007
Education Resources

Education Resource




Puzzle Mystery

Solve a mystery using clues made of small details of a painting, writing titles, and finishing a class puzzle.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Two-Part Lesson

Historical Witness, Social Messaging

Additional works of art related to the themes and topics of the curriculum.

Related Media
  • /
    Audio: Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus - Level 1
  • /
    Audio: Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus (1)