Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Tigress with her cubs 1630c.

Follower of Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

Tigress with  her cubs, Follower of Sir Peter Paul Rubens
Oil on canvas
17th Century
28 x 32 inches, 71 x 81.5 cm
Possibly the “Tigress and whelps”, as Rubens, sold at Fosters 31st January 1827, sold McGavin, bt Coleman for £1.1.
This well observed study relates to Rubens’ larger composition in the Gemaldegalerie Dresden, ‘Satyr and Faun’, also known as ‘The Education of Bacchus’. Two versions of Rubens’ full scale picture are in English collections [Burghley House, and Lord Wimborne Collection]. Another detail of the same tigress, with a more complete background to suggest a separate composition, is now attributed to Jan Wildens [Akademie der Bildenden Kunste, Vienna].

The rarity of images of such unusual animals in the seventeenth century must have led to a demand for detailed repetitions of such works, perhaps as zoological curiosities. Few artists had the opportunity to observe such animals from life, as Rubens did, and the source material was limited. Another Rubens Tigress and cubs, that in the ‘Four Rivers’, was also repeated, probably by Rubens himself, and, though it is now lost, can be seen in David Teniers’ ‘Artist in his Studio’ [Raby Castle]. The present picture differs from both Rubens’ and Wildens’ versions in some aspects. The cubs here look far more realistic, whereas Rubens’ cubs have coloured stripes, in an attempt to make them look more like baby tigers to the uneducated observer, while the tigress herself has a fiercer characterisation.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.