Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pagan Art: "Romulus and Remus" by Peter Paul Rubens



Following on from the Renaissance, the pagan myths of Greece and Rome became common themes in Western painting. Interestingly, the revival of Roman Catholic power in the Counter Reformation intensified this tendency.

Rather than just promoting religious art, the Counter Reformation also wished to emphasize Roman power by referring to Roman history and even its pagan myths. These were mobilized for the glory of Catholic Rome. Perhaps the best example of this is the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens who painted numerous and large canvases depicting Roman legends for his largely Catholic clientele.

This painting Romulus and Remus dates from 1615-16 and is owned by the Pinacoteca Capitolina Museum in Rome. It shows Romulus, the founder of Rome, and his brother Remus as infants being cared for by a wolf. Their mother, Rhea Silvia, was the daughter of Numitor, the king of Alba Longa. After he was deposed by his brother Amulius, Rhea Silvia was forced to become a Vestal Virgin to prevent her creating a dynastic threat. But the god Mars violated her and she became pregnant with the twins Romulus and Remus. When born, Amulius ordered the infants to be drowned in the Tiber, but instead they were left in the forest to die. Here a she-wolf, which had just lost its cubs, found them and suckled them, while a woodpecker, also brought them food, until they were discovered by the herdsman, Faustulus, who then raised them.

The painting shows them with the wolf, as the woodpecker brings them some cherries. In the top right we see Faustulus, who is about to discover them. The figures to the left are the God of the Tiber and the Goddess of Fortune.


C.B.Liddell
A Pagan Place
30th October, 2012

2 comments:

  1. Ambassador Soval17 March 2014 at 11:51

    ROME WAS FOUNDED BY THE ALIENS I TELL YOU! IT WAS THE ALIENS! THEY KNEW IT ALL ALONG!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Guys sorry to interrupt like this but I was the one founding Rome. You're welcome.

    ReplyDelete