The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus was completed by Peter Paul Rubens in 1618 and contains his charachteristic mix of symbolism and activity across a vibrant canvas
The influence of Greek and Roman mythology is strong through much of Rubens' career, and The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus is a fine example of that. Within this painting you will find Castor and Pollux abducting Phoebe and Hilaeira who were the daughters of King Leucippus of Argos. His third offspring, Arsinoe, is not seen in this artwork.
Leucippus was a Messenian prince whose story is from Greek mythology, as the recipient of his father's wealth and influence. The misery of his daughters seen in this painting was earlier used as inspiration for carving work on a sarcophagus in the second century.
Rubens was one of the finest ever portrait artists, with signficant skills in lighting and figurative anatomy. These are displayed at their most raw within his drawings which were key to him mastering these techniques.
The travels of artist Rubens during his life is one of the reasons for why his original artworks are spread so widely across the European continent. There was less fluidity of art between nations then as there is now, so paintings many of his paintings produced in Spain, for example, remain their today.
The story behind this painting is that twin brothers Lynceus and Idas of Thebes, sons of Tyndareus's brother Aphareus, were arranged to marry the two daughters, frustrating Castor and Pollux who wanted them for themselves. This forced their hand and led to this aggressive scene of abduction.
Tom Gurney in an art history expert. He received a BSc (Hons) degree from Salford University, UK, and has also studied famous artists and art movements for over 20 years. Tom has also published a number of books related to art history and continues to contribute to a number of different art websites. You can read more on Tom Gurney here.