Although the engraved dedication to Nicolaas Rockox claims that this engraving was executed after the original painting by Rubens, it is more likely to have been based on his preparatory oil sketch Samson Asleep in Delilah’s Lap, today held by the Cincinnati Art Museum.
In the figure of Samson with its clear reference to the Belvedere Torso, Rubens was not only taking into account Rockox’s humanistic interest in classical sculpture but also quoting directly a Roman statue owned by the burgomaster representing Cupid Asleep. The allusion to Hercules is evident in that the god is lying on a lion’s skin and holding a club. Samson is linked to Cupid not only by the theme of “love that conquers even the strongest” but also by his having been “vanquished by a woman”, as spelled out in the text at the lower edge of Matham’s copperplate engraving.
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Jacob Matham
Samson and Delilah
Copperplate engraving
height 37,5 cm, width 44,1 cm
Rockoxhuis, Antwerpen, Inv.-No. 81.2.2
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