Princes Gate bequest, 1978
This painting is the design for the final scene in a series of tapestries devoted to the life of the ancient Greek warrior Achilles (another design is on the other side of this room). Peter Paul Rubens’s assistants used it to create a full-scale version — roughly ten times larger than this work — to guide the tapestry weavers.
Guided by the god Apollo, the Trojan prince Paris shoots an arrow into Achilles’s vulnerable heel, mortally wounding him. The animals in the foreground mirror the warrior’s fate: the noble eagle is killed by the wily fox.