Meleager and Atalanta and the Hunt of the Calydonian Boar
c. 1618-19
Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640)
On View

The subject is derived from Homer's "Iliad," but it is widely believed that Rubens' composition is drawn from Ovid's narrative in the "Metamorphoses." The goddess Diana has taken insult over the Calydonian king's failure to pay her tribute during the harvest festival. To avenge herself, she sends a ferocious boar to ravage the land. The king's son Meleager, accompanied by the bravest warriors, seeks to destroy the creature. Atalanta, the beautiful virgin huntress, joins the hunt and is the first to wound the boar with her arrow, much to the chagrin of her male competitors.

In this oil sketch, or "modello," Atalanta shoots an arrow at the deadly target while Meleager prevents the boar's escape with his spear. Rubens imparts a sense of immediacy through the use of rapid and spontaneous brushstrokes. Such a vigorous technique typifies the lively flavor of the Baroque style and distinguishes the "modello" from the larger, finished painting in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.


  • Artist Name: Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640)
  • Title: Meleager and Atalanta and the Hunt of the Calydonian Boar
  • Date: c. 1618-19
  • Medium: Oil on panel
  • Dimensions: 18-3/4 x 29-1/8 in. (47.6 x 74 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
  • Accession Number: M.1975.21.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

?Orleans et al. contract sale (London, April, 1793, lot 248).
?Charles-Alexandre de Calonne (sale, London, Skinner and Dycke, 24 March 1795, lot 19).
?Edward Coxe (sale, London, Peter Coxe, 25 April 1807, lot 47, to);
?Sir Henry Rivers, 9th Bart, Kent (d. 1851).
Mrs. Macmurrough Kavanagh, Borris House, Ireland.
[Coutts & Co. (sold 15 April 1959 to];
[Thomas Agnew and Sons, London, stock 2631] (sold 28 October 1959 to);
[Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, 1960, sold 1962 to];
Mr. and Mrs. Norton Simon, 1962-1975, when given to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1971-08-01 to 1971-12-14

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1972-04-25 to 1973-04-27

[on loan]

  • Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, 1980-11-18 to 1981-05-20

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13

To Do Battle: Conflict, Struggle, and Symbol in Art

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2002-03-08 to 2002-07-08

Special Exhibition for the College Art Association (Mr. and Mrs. Norton Simon Collection)

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1965-01-18 to 1965-04-16
  • Jaffé, Michael, The Burlington Magazine, fig. 28 pp. 440, 443
  • Gerson, Horst, The Connoisseur, pl. 8 p. 163
  • Held, Julius S., The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens, no. 249; pl. 271 p. 337-339
  • Gerson, Horst, The Connoisseur, p. 163
  • Coffey, Susan, Peter Paul Rubens, p. 17
  • Heinz, Günther, Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640, 1977, fig. 19 p. 93
  • Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, 1979, p. 242
  • Adler, Wolfgang, Jan Wildens: der Landschaftsmitarbeiter des Rubens, 1980, under no. G38 p. 102
  • Norton Simon Museum, Selected Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum, 1980, p. 46
  • Balis, Arnout, Landscapes and Hunting Scenes; Corpus Rubeniam Ludwig Burchard, Part XVIII, 1986, no. 10a, fig. 70 pp. 158-159, 161-162
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 55
  • Jaffé, Michael, Catalogo Completo Rubens, 1989, no. 483 p. 239
  • Rubens in Vienna, 2004, No. 51, Fig. 1 pp. 228-230
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 112 p. 258
Audio Tour
English | Español
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
English | Español
Transcripción de Audioguía
English | Español

Additional Artwork by Artist

Autograph Letter (Written in Secretary's Hand in Dutch, Signed by Rubens on Verso) Peter Paul Rubens 1618
David Slaying Goliath Peter Paul Rubens c. 1616
Portrait of Anne of Austria, Queen of France Peter Paul Rubens c. 1622-25

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form