Pallas and Arachne

Pallas and Arachne
German: Pallas und Arachne
Rubens Arachne.jpg
ArtistPeter Paul Rubens
MediumOil on wood
MovementFlemish Baroque
Dimensions26.67 cm × 38.1 cm (10.50 in × 15.0 in)
LocationVirginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia[1]
OwnerCollection of the Duke of Infantado
Collection of the Duc de Pastrana
Collection of the Duc d'Osuna
Collection of Michel van Galder
Newhouse Galleries by 1958
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1958-present
AccessionAccessioned May 14, 1958

Pallas and Arachne (German: Pallas und Arachne), also known as Minerva Punishing Arachne and occasionally referred to as Arachne Punished by Pallas, is an oil-on-board painting by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens completed in 1636 or 1637.[2][3]


The painting depicts the story from Ovid's Metamorphoses of the weaving contest between the god Athena and the mortal Arachne. In the original myth, Athena challenges Arachne and loses, but Athena punishes Arachne anyway for insulting the gods by not recognizing the divine source of Athena's artistic skill and for creating a more beautiful work than her own.

In the background of the canvas hangs a partially-visible tapestry of Titian's The Rape of Europa which, according to Ovid's version of the story, was the theme of the tapestry woven by Athena during the conest with Arachne.[4]


Rubens's Pallas and Arachne was copied by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, the Spanish Baroque painter and son-in-law of Diego Velázquez. Velázquez positioned the copy of Pallas and Arachne behind him during his composition of Las Meninas, which he paired with another painting about different contest of the arts between gods and mortals (Apollo as Victor over Pan). The copy of Pallas and Arachne was then painted into the background of the scene in Las Meninas, which would go on to be one of the most recognized and analyzed canvases in the history of western art.[5][6][7]

A copy by Rubens of Velázquez's favorite work, Titian's The Rape of Europa, was owned by The Royal Collection of Philip IV. The work can be seen in the background of Pallas and Arachne, which in turn can be seen in the background of Las Meninas.[4]


  1. ^ Nagel, Andrew (2017). Subject as Aporia in Early Modern Art. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. p. 182. ISBN 9780754664932.
  2. ^ Toohey, Peter (2014). Jealousy. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-18968-1.
  3. ^ Oldenbourg, Ralph (1921). The Work of Rubens: Reproduced in 538 Illustrations; with a Biographical Introduction Abridged from Adolf Rosenberg, 4th Edition. New York: Brentano's. p. 385. ISBN 9780754664932.
  4. ^ a b Remport, Eglantina (2011). "'I usually first see a play as a picture': Lady Gregory and the Visual Arts". Irish University Review. 41 (2011): 42–58. JSTOR 24576099.
  5. ^ Livermore, Ann (2017). Artists and Aesthetics in Spain. London: Tamesis Books Limited. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-7293-0294-4.
  6. ^ "Velázquez's Las Meninas". SUNY Oneonta. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  7. ^ Las Meninas: Is This The Best Painting In History? Published Jan 20, 2016. Accessed June 21, 2019.

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