Skip to main content
Minerva protects Pax from Mars ('Peace and War')
Peter Paul Rubens
/

This picture was made for King Charles I of England and given to him by Rubens, who was acting as an envoy of Philip IV of Spain, in 1630. The two countries had been at war for five years and both sides were keen for a peace deal. The painting is an allegory, the figures representing different virtues and other abstract concepts, and there is a clear moral narrative.

Among the key figures, the woman in the centre represents both Pax (Peace) and Ceres, goddess of the earth, and she is sharing her bounty with a group of children in the foreground. These represent future generations, but are also portraits of the children of Sir Balthasar Gerbier, Rubens’s host. Just behind Pax, Minerva, goddess of wisdom, is protecting the group from Mars, god of war. The overall message is clear: rejecting war and embracing peace will bring prosperity and plenty. Rubens’s mission bore fruit: a peace treaty between England and Spain was signed in November 1630.

Key facts
Artist Peter Paul Rubens
Artist dates 1577 - 1640
Full title Minerva protects Pax from Mars ('Peace and War')
Date made 1629-30
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 203.5 x 298 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Duke of Sutherland, 1828
Inventory number NG46
Location in Gallery Room 18
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo