Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pormetheus Bound
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Mar 12, 2015
***First Paragraph: Intro
Prometheus Bound was painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1611-1612; it is currently
displaced in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The huge eight feet by seven feet painting was
created in the Southern Netherlands after Rubens returned from Italy. Rubens kept this enormous
painting of Prometheus Bound in his personal collection for several years, and from a letter in
1618 to Sir Dudley Carleton, he described it as one of his most important creations. The picture’s
power to invoke a strong emotional response was a source of great pride to him. Interpretations of
this Greek myth of the epic struggle between Prometheus and the eagle had acquired many
allegorical resonances by the early seventeenth century, which Rubens would have known. This
painting could be regarded as the Rubens’ commentary on either the spiritual suffering or the
struggles of creativity.
***Second Paragraph: Artist
Flemish artist was one of the most celebrated and prolific artists in Europe during his
lifetime. His career started off at great success because of his ambition. As soon as Rubens had
completed his training in the arts, he set out for Italy in order to see for himself the great
Renaissance and the famous classical works that he knew heard so much about. He traveled around
learning, copying, and incorporating the techniques of Renaissance and classical art into his own
style. In 1608 news came that Rubens' mother was dying. He left immediately for his home in
Antwerp, but by the time he arrived she had died. However since he was home, Rubens decided
to stay in the city. His reputation had preceded him, and in 1609 he was appointed court painter to
the Archduke Albert and his wife Isabella. After this great honor, Rubens could afford to buy a
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grand house in a fashionable part of Antwerp. He built a large studio to work out of and to
accommodate for his pupils and assistants because he received so many request, he could not
single-handedly complete them all. He designed the studio himself in an Italian style just like his
paintings. In 1611, Rubens began PrometheusBound. However, he did not paint this picture allow.
He hired Frans Snyder, an expert at animal and still life paintings, to help draw out the ferocious
eagle. After finishing the painting, he kept it in his own collection for several years. Later, Rubens
traded it to the English collector Sir Dudley Carlton for some of Sir Dudley’s prized ancient
***Third Paragraph: Painting/Analyze
A first glanced at the picture informs us that Rubens illustrated a rather unsettling scene.
Prometheus, the large muscular man, lies on the ground and his whole body is contorted by the
pain. He is unable to defend against the pain because there is a chain fastened to the one visible
arm to the rock. He is being attacked by a huge eagle which is pulling a piece of his liver from his
side, while placing one of its sharp talons on the Prometheus’ face and the other one on his groin.
The pain of the subject is portrayed with unsparing realism and inconsiderable detail. The light
falls fully agonizing the figure of Prometheus; his convulsed pose, cramped fingers and toes, and
distorted face clearly show his deep suffering. The eagle is made all the more menacing, as he is
spread at length of Prometheus' entire body. The eagle echoes the hopeless squirming of the man
lying on the rock in the flowing curvatures of its neck and wings.
***Fourth Paragraph: Myth and theme behind it
This painting is based upon a Greek Myth about Prometheus. He was the Titan god of
forethought and crafty counsel. He was avoided being imprisoned in Tartarus with the rest of the
Titans because he had sided with Zeus, helping him over throw the old gods. By Zeus, he was
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given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man out of clay and Athena breathed life into
his clay figures. In his attempts to better the lives of his creation, he brought himself into direct
conflict with Zeus. First, he tricked the Zeus into picking bones over beef by asking him to choose
between two offerings, animal fat which contained bones and the stomach of an ox which
contained beef; this would be what mankind would offer to the gods. Obviously, Zeus chose the
animal fat because he was not aware of the bones it contained. As a result Zeus withheld fire from
mankind. However, Prometheus went behind Zeus’s back and stole it from the heavens and
delivered mankind a lit torch. As a punishment for these rebellious actions, Zeus ordered Vulcan
to bind Prometheus to a rock where an eagle was set to feed upon his liver during the day, and the
liver regenerated during the night due to his immortality.
***Fifth Paragraph: Conclusion
***Sixth: Cited Work
1. Atsma, Aaron J. "Prometheus." Theoi Greek Mythology. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
2. Carleton, Dudley. Letters from and to Sir Dudley Carleton ... during His Embassy in Holland,
from January 1615/16, to December 1620. London: 1775. Google Books. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
3. Held, Julius S. "Prometheus Bound" JSTOR. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
4. Kimball, Fiske. "Rubens' Prometheus." JSTOR. The Burlington Magazine. Web. 12 Mar.
5. "Peter Paul Rubens." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
6. "Peter Paul Rubens." The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
7. "Prometheus." Greek Mythology. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.