Friday, 5 November 2010

Rubens - The Spectacle of Life

Pieter Paul Rubens, The Garden of Love
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Pieter Paul Rubens
Museo del Prado, Madrid
5th November 2010 to 23rd January 2011

"I confess that I am, by natural instinct, better fitted to execute very large works than small curiosities. Everyone according to his gifts; my talent is such that no undertaking, however vast in size or diversified in subject, has ever surpassed my courage." - Rubens to the agent of James I, 1621.

Coinciding with the closure of the existing rooms of the museum dedicated to Rubens (due to the building of a new extension) the Prado Museum is making a special presentation of nearly a hundred works by the prolific Flemish painter. The exhibition stresses the importance, breadth and variety of its Rubens collection, composed of many of his finest masterpieces, such as St. George Fighting the Dragon (c. 1607), St. Paul (c. 1611), The Garden of Love (c. 1633), The Three Graces (c. 1635), Nymphs and Satyrs (c. 1635), Hercules and Cerberus (c. 1636), Saturn Devouring his Son (1636-1638), Village Kermesse (1636-1640), Diana and her Nymphs Surprised by Satyrs (1638-1640) and Diana and Callisto (1638-1640), among others.

Accompanying the exhibition, the Museo del Prado presents a unique audiovisual presentation about the artist, entitled Rubens - The Spectacle of Life. This is a study of the painter, co-produced by the Spanish Centre for European Studies and Angular Productions, directed by Miguel Angel Trujillo. It draws particular attention to the unique creative expression of the favourite painter of Philip IV, and one of the greatest masters of painting of all time. In order to place the artist in a broader artistic context, the presentation includes contributions by figures outside of art historiography, such as Israel Galván, the choreographer and dancer, National Dance Award winner in 2005, and the English costume designer Yvonne Blake, now living in Spain, who won an Oscar for Best Costume Design in 1971 as well as four Goya awards, who convey their passion for their professions as well as for the art of Rubens. Galván's dancing serves to emphasise that the human body is the main instrument of the painter, while Yvonne Blake was inspired by paintings by Rubens for the costumes of some films. Alongside them, other people like the sculptor Juan Bordes or the essayist and philosopher Javier Goma, help evaluate the figure of Rubens and bring him closer to modern audiences.

Trailer: Rubens - The Spectacle of Life (in Spanish)

Pieter Paul Rubens, The Three Graces
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Pieter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was the most admired artist of his time in Europe. His art stems from a prodigious creativity, and his rhetoric is characterized by a powerfully expressive technique. Its aim is to present an exalted vision of life that helps us get closer to an ideal of human excellence. Rubens also worked as a diplomat in the service of the Spanish Monarchy and was an active and knowledgeable authority on classical culture, which gives us a measure of the greatness of his character. A native of the southern Netherlands (modern Belgium), Rubens had a strong relationship with the Spanish royal family that ruled the region. The Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia, daughter of Philip II, used him as an adviser and supported his career. The subsequent predilection of King Philip IV for the artist, who commissioned dozens of his paintings to decorate his palaces in Madrid, is the main reason why the Prado Museum maintains the largest collection of his works anywhere.

Also, at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris, an exhibition higlighting the influence of Rubens and Flemish painting in general on the French Classical style:-

Following his coronation, Henry IV promoted an ambitious commissioning policy affecting both public buildings and the fine arts. Numerous Flemish artists were then present in Paris, such as Jan Cossiers and Thomas Bosschaert; some, like Ambrose Bosschaert at Fontainebleau, working on the royal projects.

This was continued by Marie de Medicis from the beginning of her regency in 1610. It was to Pieter Paul Rubens and his followers that were entrusted the realisation of large projects, as evidenced by the Allegory of Good Government, which originally formed part of the decor designed by the master for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. Likewise, it was the Flemings who painted the portraits of the royal family and court. Painters such as Anthony van Dyck (Portrait of Marie de Medicis), Francis II Pourbus, Joost van Egmont or Philippe de Champaigne excel in this art.

Pieter Paul Rubens, The Bath of Diana
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam
So it was at first through large subjects that the Flemish baroque school imposed itself on the Parisian scene. Historical and religious painting offer the best examples of the influence of these artists, from Rubens (The Bath of Diana, St. Sebastian and St. George) to Theodore van Thulden (The Arrival of St. John of Matha and St. Felix of Valois in Paris).

Rubens, Poussin and the Painters of the 17th Century
Musée Jacquemart-Andre, Paris
24th September 2010 - 24th January 2011

Prado Museum official exhibition site
Jacquemart-Andre Museum official exhibition site
Pieter-Paul Rubens: The Complete Works (290 paintings)

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