Rembrandt Paints Artemisia
Artemisia Receiving Mausolus' Ashes (also known as Sophonisba Receiving the Poisoned Cup) is a painting by the Dutch master Rembrandt.
It is housed in the Museo del Prado of Madrid, Spain. It is signed "REMBRANDT F: 1634".
The subject of the picture is still unclear. It portrays a young woman, variously identified as Sophonisba or Artemisia, or a generic queen due to her jewels and rich garments, receiving a cup from a maiden. The cup would contain the ashes of Artemisia's husband, King Mausolus, or, in the case of Sophonisba, the poison which killed her.
For the woman, Rembrandt probably used his wife Saskia as model.
Artemisia was the wife of Mausolus, the satrap of Caria in Asia Minor. She succeeded her husband on his death in 353 B.C., and erected a great monument to his memory at Halicarnassus - hence 'mausoleum'. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was said that she mixed the ashes of Mausolus in liquid which she then drank, thereby making herself, observes Valerius Maximus, making of herself a living, breathing tomb. Artemisia symbolizes a widow's devotion to her husband's memory. In Renaissance painting she is depicted holding a cup or goblet.