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  Peter Paul Rubens

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Peter Paul Rubens
 
 
 

Descent from the Cross
1616-17
Oil on canvas, 425 x 295 cm
Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lille


The Martyrdom of St Stephen
1616-17
Oil on canvas, 437 x 278 cm
Musee des Beaux-Arts, Valenciennes







The Last Judgement
1617
Oil on canvas, 606 x 460 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich


Small Last Judgement
Oil on wood, 183,3 x 119 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich






Nature Adorning the Three Graces
c. 1615
Oil on wood, 107 x 72 cm
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow



The Discovery of the Child Erichthonius
c. 1615
Oil on canvas, 218 x 317 cm
Sammlungen des Fursten von und zu Lichtenstein, Vaduz






The Discovery of the Child Erichthonius (detail)
c. 1615
Oil on canvas, 218 x 317 cm
Sammlungen des Fursten von und zu Lichtenstein, Vaduz

 
 
 
 




Lamentation of Christ
1617-18
Oil on panel, 138 x 98 cm (central panel), 137 x 48 cm (each side panel)
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp


Adoration of the Magi
1618-19
Oil on canvas, 245 x 325 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon


Miracles of St Ignatius
1615-20
Oil on canvas, 400 x 275 cm
Chiesa del Gesu, Genoa






Romulus and Remus
1615-16
Oil on canvas, 210 x 212 cm
Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome



The Drunken Silenus
1616-17
Oil on wood, 212 x 214,5 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich





The Union of Earth and Water
c. 1618
Oil on canvas, 222,5 x 180,5 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg




Return of the Prodigal Son
c. 1618
Oil on canvas, 107 x 155 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

 
 
 
 

The Rape of the Lecippidae

1618


Rubens is said to have painted with blood on occasion. He certainly loved excitement, dramatic scenes and passion. He exuded limitless vitality, as shown in his paintings of drinking and dancing scenes, of robbery and death. A bloodbath of colour out of which spectacularly voluptuous bodies rise up from a sea of Baroque turbulence — eyes speaking helplessly of fear or lascivious lust, figures swooning in desperation or ardently passionate. His trademark is sensuality and voluminous nudity. When he painted the Last Judgement for a high altat in a Jesuit church, the work had to be removed because the priests could no longer officiate at mass or concentrate on hourly prayers as long as those "disgusting nudes" were there. It was not only critics of the period who were repelled by the carnality of his work; even today his pictures are occasionally derided as "sides of ham".
Peter Paul Rubens, from 1598 a master of the Antwerp St Luke's Artisans' Guild, ignored the ironic comments of his detractors. Politically committed, the Flemish painter acted as a diplomat for the Spanish Governors of the Netherlands, which enabled him to travel often and extensively. He soon made enough money with his painting to be financially secure. After serving several royal Courts, he realised that he "could not stand Court life", although he did accept an appointment as Court Painter to the Spanish Governors of the Netherlands. Rubens built a house in Antwerp, where he lived and worked most of the time. Elevated to the peerage, he even bought a castle, leading the life of a country gentleman. His meteoric rise to fame and fortune was only possible because he was showered with commissions. Over 3,000 paintings are known to have left his studio, where he employed a great many assistants. Only some 600 of these works were painted by his own hand. Sharing a love of Greek and Roman literature with many of his contemporaries, Rubens gleaned the motif for The Rape of the Leucippidae from mythology. Malicious contemporaries regarded it as "a bundle of bodies tied up in a knot". Again, Rubens chose to illustrate a dramatic event. The nude women are the daughters of Leucippus, King of Argos. The Hellenistic pastoral poet Theocritus told a late version of the story of how they were kidnapped from their wedding feast after marrying Idas and Lynceus. The miscreants, the twins Castor and Pollux, were demigods who had also fallen in love with the sisters. Rubens does not depict the sequel to the kidnapping, although it would certainly have been a classic motif for the artist: the bridegrooms' pursuit of the kidnappers ended with both bridegrooms and one kidnapper dead. Zeus, the demigods' father, executed Idas with a thunderbolt. Pollux, who was immortal, was the only survivor of the slaughter.





Peter Paul Rubens
The Rape of the Lecippidae
1618





Peter Paul Rubens
The Rape of the Lecippidae (detail)
1618

 
 
 
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