Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rubens-Artist of the Month

Once in a great while, an artist comes along who has multiple skills outside his painting genius. Peter Paul Rubens, born June 28, 1577, is one such treasure. Below is one of the artist's self-portraits.

Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, summaries Rubens' gifts in the following comments:

"He was exceptionally intelligent and prided himself on his diplomatic skills. He was Ambassador to Spain, and his writing abilities as much as his fine arts talents were prodigious.

Most art historians consider his landscapes among the best ever created and his lightening-fast oil studies are more accomplished and full of more verve than 99 percent of the finished works by any artist in the upper ranks of painters.

Rubens was something of a charming knave, too, and appears to have been involved, just for the fun ot it, in "restoring" a group of copies of Italian master paintings that were damaged in a storm when they were being transported from Italy to Spain to become part of the collections of the wealthy Duke of Lerma. Rubens wrote that he didn't want the works to be fiddled around with by incompetent Spanish painters so he took on the restoration work himself and totally reworked them. He wryly notes that the good Duke never realized that he actually received copies instead of originals.

The Equestrian Statue of the Duke of Lerma

In my view, no artist in history has painted women more gloriously. Sure, there are jokes about his plump and varicose-veined goddesses and nymphs, but once one recognizes that Rubens was glorifying the ideal feminine form of the 17th century, you will see the intensity and utter love with which they've been done."

Venus at her Mirror

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