The influence of Greek and Roman mythology is strong through much of Rubens' career, and The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus is a fine example of that. Within this painting you will find Castor and Pollux abducting Phoebe and Hilaeira who were the daughters of King Leucippus of Argos. His third offspring, Arsinoe, is not seen in this artwork.
Leucippus was a Messenian prince whose story is from Greek mythology, as the recipient of his father's wealth and influence. The misery of his daughters seen in this painting was earlier used as inspiration for carving work on a sarcophagus in the second century.
Rubens was one of the finest ever portrait artists, with signficant skills in lighting and figurative anatomy. These are displayed at their most raw within his drawings which were key to him mastering these techniques.
The original painting of The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus can now be found at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Germany. This prestigious art museum also counts the likes of The Sacrifice of Isaac, The Land of Cockaigne by Pieter Bruegel, Vanity by Titian and a self-portrait from 1500 within its permanent collection.
The travels of artist Rubens during his life is one of the reasons for why his original artworks are spread so widely across the European continent. There was less fluidity of art between nations then as there is now, so paintings many of his paintings produced in Spain, for example, remain their today.
The story behind this painting is that twin brothers Lynceus and Idas of Thebes, sons of Tyndareus's brother Aphareus, were arranged to marry the two daughters, frustrating Castor and Pollux who wanted them for themselves. This forced their hand and led to this aggressive scene of abduction.