The Rape of Proserpine

Image credit: National Trust Images

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Pluto has emerged from the underworld in his chariot, drawn by his four black horses, Orphnaeus, Arthion, Nycteus and Alastor. He abducts Proserpine, daughter of the corn-goddess Ceres, whilst she is out picking flowers in the fields of Sicily. The goddess Minerva (or Athene) is threatening him whilst Diana, Venus and a Nereid look on ineffectually.

This scene is taken from Claudian’s poem 'The Rape of Proserpine', rather than from Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses', the more common source of this myth. The artist was inspired by an engraving after an original painting by Rubens.

National Trust, Arlington Court and National Trust Carriage Museum

near Barnstaple


The Rape of Proserpine


mid-17th C


oil on copper


H 100.3 x W 127 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

bequeathed by Miss Rosalie Chichester, 1949

Work type



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Normally on display at

National Trust, Arlington Court and National Trust Carriage Museum

Arlington, near Barnstaple, Devon EX31 4LP England

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