- Museum number
Venus rising from the sea, with two nereids, one clasping the shoulders of the other from behind
Pen and brown ink
Verso: Dance of Italian peasants, all linking hands. c.1627-8
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
Height: 272 millimetres
Width: 250 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Recto and verso of this sheet correspond to two different projects dating to circa 1630. The recto depicts Venus Anadyomene and Two Nereids and is rendered in the lively pen and brown ink technique typical of Rubens but also consistent with Anthony van Dyck’s early technique which in turn led to erroneous earlier attribution of the drawing to Rubens’ pupil. Distinguishing the two artists’ hands in the present instance is undebatable on account of their status as preparatory sketches for two projects by Rubens. The recto is preparatory to a cylindrical ivory-carving that covers a salt cellar now in the Swedish Royal Collection in Stockholm (see Held 1986, no.168). The ivory carving was executed by Georg Petel (1601/2-34) and is generally dated to 1628. The salt cellar was in Rubens’ own collection and was inventoried in 1640. In terms of the composition, similarities in the form of Venus might be observed in the bust of the harpy that Rubens incorporated in the ceiling of York House in 1628 (see 1918,1030.1). The verso is an initial idea for the ‘A Dance of Italian Peasants’, in the Museo Nacional del Prado (inv. P0001691) and is the only extant drawing connected to this work. Corresponding to the left half of the composition, Held suggested that the present sheet might be a fragment of a once larger sheet on which Rubens worked out the rest of the scene and that it was divided by a later owner. He also lamented the fact that the lack of the rest of the composition deprives us of the opportunity to see how Rubens developed this particularly playful scene.
Lit: J. Rowlands, 'Rubens: Drawings and Sketches', exhibition catalogue, London, British Museum, 1977, no. 177; J. Held, 'Selected Drawings', New York, 1986, nos. 168 & 169; C. White, 'P.P. Rubens', 1987, pp.203-04, fig.227. L. Burchard-R.A. d'Hulst, 'Rubens Drawings', 1963, pp.233-36, no.149, fig.149; Anne-Marie Logan, 'Distinguishing the Drawings by Anthony van Dyck from those of Peter Paul Rubens', in Hans Vlieghe (ed.), "Van Dyck 1599-1999: conjectures and refutations", Turnhout, 2001, p.15, repr. fig.13 (the verso); I. Seligman, 'Lines of Thought', London, 2016, no. 10, p. 45 (the verso).
Entry from J. Rowlands, 'Rubens: Drawings and Sketches', exhibition catalogue, London, British Museum, 1977:
This is a preparatory drawing produced for the guidance of Rubens's friend Georg Petel in the execution of a cylindrical ivory-carving, covering the shaft of a saltcellar. Its bowl in the form of a shell, and feet of intertwined dolphins are executed in silver-gilt. We know that it was executed subsequent to an oil-sketch in the collection of Lady Anne Bentinck (Rowlands 1977, cat. no. 175) because of the change in the direction of the head of the nereid which Petel adopted in his carving. The dating of this commission about 1627-8 (for the evidence for this, see Rowlands 1977, cat. no. 175) makes it reasonable also to date the painting of the 'Dance of Italian Peasants', for which there is a preparatory sketch on the verso of this sheet, to approximately the same time.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1977 BM, Rubens drawings and sketches, no.177
2004 Aug-Oct, Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, 'Rubens and the Baroque Passion'
2016 3 Sep - 6 Nov, Poole Museum, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 10 (verso)
2017 1 Jan - 25 Feb, The Brynmor Jones Library Art Gallery, University of Hull, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 10 (verso)
2017 12 Mar - 5 May, Ulster Museum, Belfast, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 10 (verso)
2017 May - Sep, New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 10 (verso)
2017-2018 Oct - Jan, RISD Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 10 (verso)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number