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

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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

Woollett, Anne T. "Acquisition of the Year: 'The Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus' by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles." Apollo (December 2001) pp. 18-19, ill.

Jeromack, Paul. "A Tough Love." Art & Auction 25, no. 2 (February 2003) pp. 72-3, 79, ill.

Allen, Denise, et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, with Thames & Hudson, 2003) pp. 42-43, no. 21, ill., entry by Anne Woollett.

Rosenthal, Lisa. Gender, Politics, and Allegory in the Art of Rubens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) pp. 1-3, 73-75, fig. 21.

Mulders, Christine van. "De 'Ontwapening van Mars door Venus,' een samenwerking tussen Jan Brueghel de Oude en Peter Paul Rubens." In Florissant: Bijdragen tot de kunstgeschiedenis der Nederlanden. Arnout Balis, et al., eds. (Brussels: VUB Press, 2005) pp. 284-303, ill.

Woollett, Anne T., and Ariane van Suchtelen, eds. Rubens and Brueghel: A Working Friendship, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, with Waanders, 2006) pp. ix, 2-4, 29-30, 35, 50, 52-59, 80, 87, 119, 144, 149, 195, 197-99, 214, 218-21, 226-34, no. 2, ill.

Woollett, Anne T. "Rubens and Brueghel in Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum." World of Antiques & Art 71 (August 2006-February 2007) pp. 66-67, ill.

Suchtelen, Ariane van. "Rubens & Brueghel Samen." Mauritshuis in Focus 19, no. 4 (October 2006) pp. 10-13, ill.

Honig, Elizabeth Alice. "Exhibition Reviews: Rubens and Brueghel: Los Angeles and The Hague," The Burlington Magazine 148 (November 2006) pp. 788-89, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007) p. 106, ill.

Rosen, Jochai. "Masculinity Pacified: Women as Mothers in the Guardroom Scenes of Anthonie Palamedes (1602-1673)." De Zeventiende Eeuw 24, no. 2 (January 2008) pp. 187-88, fig. 5.

Doherty, Tiarna, and Anne T. Woollett. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009) p. 16, ill.

Jaffé, David. "Rubens's lost 'pocketbook': some new thoughts." The Burlington Magazine 152 , no. 1283 (February 2010) pp. 96-97, fig. 38.

Woollett, Anne T. "Jan Brueghel d. Ä. und die Kunst der Zusammenarbeit." In Brueghel: Gemälde von Jan Brueghel D.Ä., exh. cat. Mirjam Neumeister, ed. (Munich: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, with Hirmer, 2013) pp., 39, 56, 57, ill.

Woollett, Anne T. "The Burden of Invention: Rubens and the Stage of Welcome." In Art, Music, and Spectacle in the Age of Rubens: The Pompa Introitus Ferdinandi. Anna C. Camp and Michael C. J. Putnam, eds. (Turnhout: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2013) pp. 226-27, 228, fig.4.

Brosens, Koenraad. "'Mars and Minerva Have Never Been the Best of Friends.'" In Ravaged: Art and Culture in Times of Conflict, exh. cat. Jo Tollebeek and Eline van Assche, eds. (Leuven: M - Museum Leuven, with Mercatorfonds, 2014) pp. 31-32, fig. 8.

Yamamoto, Dorothy. Guinea Pig (London: Reaktion Books LTD, 2015) pp. 50-53, 161, ill.

Education Resources

Education Resource




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Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


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