Rape of Persephone

The Rape of Persephone is a classical mythological subject in Western art, depicting the abduction of Persephone by Hades. This then resulted in the myth surrounding the creation of the seasons, as Demeter mourned the time that Persephone spent in the Underworld with her husband. In the context of the subject, the word "Rape" refers to the traditional translation of the Latin raptus, "seized" or "carried off", and not to sexual violence.

Rape of Persephone
2001.Pluto und Prosperina-Glocken Fontäne Rondell-Sanssouci Steffen Heilfort.JPG
A statue depicting the kidnapping of Persephone by Hades
GroupingClassical mythology
Sub groupingSpirit
Rape of Persephone. Hades with his horses and Persephone (down). An Apulian red-figure volute krater, c. 340 BC. Antikensammlung Berlin



Peter Paul Rubens' The Rape of Proserpina, 1636-1637

Created between 1636 - 1637, Peter Paul Rubens depicted the abduction of Persephone in a piece entitled The Rape of Proserpine. The piece was intended to decorate the lost Torre de la Parada, and as such was owned by the Spanish Royal family.[1]

This was copied later in the 17th century by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo in oil on canvas under the name of El Rapto de Proserpina, and later again reproduced by the Real Establecimiento Litográfico de Madrid in the 19th century for the purpose of printing and distribution.


Painted in around 1631, The Abduction of Proserpina has largely been attributed to Rembrandt. Although the painting remains unsigned, the style and composition is highly indicative of being a legitimate Rembrandt. It is currently displayed as a part of Gemäldegalerie, Berlin permanent exhibit.[2]


As part of a set of oil studies intended to be used for painting the ceiling frescoes in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence, the Mythological Scene with the Rape of Proserpine was created with the intention of being presented to Marquess Francesco Riccardi for approval before being painted in the palace. Currently, ten of the twelve oil studies created between 1682-1685 reside in the National Gallery.[3]


This painting on a large wooden panel is entitled The Abduction of Proserpine. It was painted in 1570, and spent most of its life residing in the Villa Salviati after being commissioned by the Salviati family.[4]

Other PaintingsEdit

  • The Rape of Persephone, a painting in the Macedonian Tomb I in Vergina (Aegae),[5] dating from the mid 4th century BCE. This in situ mural is mostly indistinguishable, other than the figures of Hades and Persephone themselves on a chariot.[6]

This list is by no means exhaustive, but seeks to highlight some prominent examples of the myth in Western paintings.


The Rape of Persephone, musée Saint-Raymond, Toulouse, inv. Ra 152

Examples include:


  1. ^ "Museo Del Prado: The Rape of Proserpine".
  2. ^ Bryun, J; Haak, B.; Levie, S.H.; Van Thiel, P.J.J.; Van De Wetering, E. (1982). "The abduction of Proserpina". A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. 1. p. 365.
  3. ^ "Mythological Scene with the Rape of Proserpine".
  4. ^ "The Abduction of Proserpine".
  5. ^ Erksine, A., et al. (eds.) (2017). "THE ROYAL COURT IN ANCIENT MACEDONIA: THE EVIDENCE FOR ROYAL TOMBS". The Hellenistic Court. Bristol. p. 410.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Reproducing the Wall Painting of the Abduction of Persephone (Vergina-Macedonia): Conditions and Restrictions for a Successful Archaeological Experiment".

External linksEdit