The Calydonian Boar Hunt

Object Details


The Calydonian Boar Hunt


Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)




Belgium (Place created)


about 1611 - 1612


Oil on panel


59.2 x 89.7 cm (23 5/16 x 35 5/16 in.)

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The boar was furiously twisting its body round and round, its jaws slavering with foam and fresh blood...the hero who had dealt the wound came up close to the animal and roused his foe to fury, before finally burying his shining spear in its shoulder.

-Ovid, Metamorphoses

Wrapped in a flowing red cape, the warrior Meleager thrusts his spear into the shoulder of a massive boar. The ferocious creature--seemingly undaunted by a pair of hounds latched onto its bristled hide--has turned to confront head-on its human adversary. Meleager's blow will prove to be fatal to the boar, but the beast has proven itself as a fearsome foe. Beneath its imposing hooves lie the disemboweled carcass of a hound and the prostrate corpse of the hunter, Ancaeus.

The story of the Calydonian boar hunt was told and retold during antiquity--most famously in Ovid's Metamorphoses. When King Oeneus of Calydon failed to honor the goddess Diana with offerings, she released a terrifying boar on his land. The king's son, Meleager, assembled a group of renowned warriors to slay the beast. Several of the huntsmen were killed or maimed before Meleager finally defeated the boar. He presented its head as a trophy to his beloved, the huntress Atalanta, who is seen behind Meleager, with bow in hand.

Peter Paul Rubens created this painting a few years after an extended stay in Italy. He drew from ancient sarcophagi and statues he had seen there for the poses of many of the figures. For example, the boar seen in profile was taken directly from a well-known marble in Florence's Uffizi Gallery. Rubens's appropriation of iconic images from antiquity was intended to resonate with learned viewers. For the figures on horseback, Rubens borrowed from his Renaissance predecessors, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. But Rubens's dynamic and inventive interpretation of the hunt was wholly his own. With this painting, he established the theme of the epic combat between man and animal, a subject to which he would return throughout his career.

about 1612 -

Probably Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577 - 1640 (Antwerp, Belgium), probably retained by the artist in his studio.

- 2004

Private Collection (Avignon, France) [sold, Drouot-Richelieu, Paris, December 10, 2004, lot 63, to Scottsdale International Ltd., Paris.]

2004 - 2005

Scottsdale International Ltd., Paris (Paris, France), sold to Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Ltd. (London, England), 2005.

2005 - 2006

Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Ltd. (London, England.), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006.


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Rooses, Max. L'Oeuvre de P. P. Rubens: histoire et description des ses tableaux et dessins. 5 vols. (Antwerp: Jos. Maes, 1886-92) vol. 3 [1890], pp. 117-18, no. 638, pl. 197.

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Demus, Klaus, et al. Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640: Austellung zur 400. Wiederkehr seines Geburstages, exh. cat. (Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, 1977) p. 94, under no. 31.

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Balis, Arnout. "Rubens' Jachttaferelen: Bedenkingen bij een Onderzoek." Academiae Analecta (1986) pp. 112, 118.

Robels, Hella. Frans Snyders: Stilleben und Tiermaler, 1579-1657 (Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1989) pp. 39, 90, 391, under no. 297, and note 96.

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Drouot Richelieu, Paris. Tableaux XIXe et Modernes, Sculptures, Art Nouveau, Art Déco, Tableaux Anciens [...] Tappisseries. December 10, 2004 p. 23, lot 63, ill.

Jaffé, David, et al. Rubens: A Master in the Making, exh. cat. (London: National Gallery Company, with Yale University Press, 2005) p. 189, under nos. 87-88, note 2.

Drouot: l'art et les enchères 2005 (Paris: Drouot Holding, 2005) p. 69, 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. 68, 129, ill.

Woollett, Anne T. "The 'Calydonian boar hunt': a Rubens for the J. Paul Getty Museum." The Burlington Magazine 149 (February 2007) pp. 82-84, figs. 8, 10-12.

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

Uppenkamp, Barbara and Ben van Beneden. "'La vera simmetria." Rubens's Italian Examples." In Palazzo Rubens: The Master as Architect, exh. cat. Uppenkamp, Barbara and Ben van Beneden (Antwerp: Rubenshuis with Mercatorfonds, 2011) p. 42, ill.

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