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Sir Peter Paul Rubens
Flemish School. One of the greatest and most prolific of painters.
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
PEACE AND WAR To the left of the centre Peace, with nude torso, seated looking to the right, her right hand on her breast; at her feet a leopard: Slightly to the left, in profile to right, Pan stooping down with a bunch of fruit. On the left Wealth, a nymph, her back to us, a green drapery round her waist and a bowl of precious stones and metals on her left hip. Beyond her Happiness with the cymbals. In the centre and right foreground a knot of children centring on Peace, their mother. In the centre background Minerva driving War (a man in armour) to the right. Pestilence and Famine are driven into darkness.
Painted in England in 1628-29. The children are those of Balthasar Gerbier.
Presented by Rubens to Charles L, after whose death it was acquired by the Doria family in Genoa, where it was known as "The Family of Rubens."
Presented to the National Gallery by the first Duke of Sutherland in 1828.
" CHAPEAU DE PAILLE" A portrait of the painter's sister-in-law, Susanne Fourment. Half length, full face, standing, the hands folded under the breasts. She is in a black bodice with crimson sleeves, and pale olive green scarf, and wears a large black beaver hat with a white ostrich plume.
Painted in 1620.
It has been suggested that the title of this picture is a corruption of "Chapeau d'Espagne "- the hat is certainly not of straw.
Purchased with the Peel Collection in 1871.
THE TRIUMPH OF SILENUS Silenus in the centre, a light drapery round his waist, lurches across to the left. Before him a nymph in pink holding a bunch of grapes over him, a faun stooping beneath the drunkard's weight, and a piper in blue-grey. To the right a faun looking up with his arm round Silenus, and two other figures. Two infant Bacchantes with grapes farther to the right.
Painted 1625-27, and described in the inventory of the painter's effects "No. 170, Drunken Silenus." A picture with this title by Rubens was in the Duke of Buckingham's Collection.
Purchased with the Peel Collection in 1871.
LONDON, WALLACE COLLECTION
THE RAINBOW LANDSCAPE "A grand landscape, exhibiting an extensive view over flat open country in Flanders, with all the varieties which Nature shows in a cultivated state, and adorned with clusters of lofty trees and the picturesque intersections of roads and hedges. This scene of Nature is enlivened by a party of peasants returning at evening from harvest work; beyond these are others still occupied in agricultural labours; some cattle are at a pond on the right towards which several sheep are hurrying. The general aspect of vegetation presents the beauty and freshness arising from recent showers, which is finely indicated by a rainbow in the heavens, the purity of the atmosphere, and the transient bursts of sunshine. This production is of equal excellence with the Chateau de Steen (National Gallery, No. 66), to which it formed a companion in the Balbi Palace (Genoa), and was imported in 1802, . . ." (Smith.)
Painted c. 1636, being a replica of the earlier and smaller picture at Munich (No. 761).
A WILD BOAR HUNT In a woody landscape, by a great fallen trunk, the progress of a large boar is being opposed by seven huntsmen to the left, four of them armed with spears, one with a pitchfork, one blowing a horn, and one on the ground under the boar; dogs are rushing on and around the animal, and some of them have already suffered from its fangs. Two mounted huntsmen are beyond the boar, one of them in the act of plunging his sword into its body, and two others are riding in from the right. In the left corner a bay is holding two hounds in leash. In the opening of the wood to the right a second party is seen in distant pursuit of boars.
From the Adrian Hope Collection
Another version of the same subject is at Dresden (No. 962, 1.37 x 1.68), of which Dr. Woerman writes: " It is a beautiful original of the master's own hand. Several versions exist, and varying in details, among which is the great masterpiece belonging to Mr. Adrian Hope."
THE FLIGHT OF LOT Against a background of dark grey and brilliant yellow clouds, from which demons hurl down fire upon the town, the fugitives march across the picture from the massive stone gate on the left, through which a flood of light pours on them. Foremost in the procession is Lot led by an angel; next is his aged wife pushed forward by another angel; last, his two daughters, one leading a donkey by the bridle rein, the other with a basket of fruit on her head.
Signed and dated 1625.
LA VIERCE AUX ANCES The Virgin is seated in the clouds facing us. She has the Child standing on her left knee. Around float a host of little naked children, two of whom hold a crown over the Virgin's head, while others offer her palm branches.
HELENA FOURMENT AND HER TWO CHILDREN A picture similar to No, 797 at Munich, noticed below,
"THE FOUR PHILOSOPHERS" A portrait group of Rubens, his brother, Lipsius, and Grotius. The painter stands in the background to the left, the three others being seated at a small table covered with a cloth. In the centre, with his back close against the wall, in which is a niche with a bust of Seneca and a small vase of tulips, is Lipsius, a thin, haggard man with along pointed beard and moustache, in a gown with a wide collar of leopard's fur. His left hand rests on an open book, with the first finger extended. At his left, in profile, is Grotius, a younger man, with short beard and moustache. Both his hands are on an open book in front of him. Between Lipsius and the painter is Philip Rubens, turned half to right, but his eyes meeting ours, as he holds up his right hand with a pen in it. He is the youngest of the party, and has thick hair, pointed beard, and moustache.A landscape is seen through an opening in a curtain between the heads of Lipsius and Philip.
PERSEUS AND ANDROMEDA On a broad ledge of rock, with a background of cliff and the sea on the left, are grouped the life-sized figures of Perseus and his winged horse, Andro meda, and five little naked boy;. Andromeda, also nude, stands on the right with her dress bound behind her to the cliff. Perseus, in Roman armour with crested helmet and flowing cloak, advances to untie her bonds, while on the left Pegasus stands, a great dappled grey charger with outstretched wings, his hind-quarters towards us and his head turned to the group. Two of the children, winged, stand beside Andromeda, the one on the extreme right reaching up to unloose her arm. Another has climbed and a fourth is climbing on the horse's back, while the fifth is at his head.
Painted c. 1615.
This is one of the finest of many mythological subjects painted by Rubens.
HELENA FOURMENT AND CHILD The artist's second wife. Whole length, seated half right on a stool on a terrace, with her son of about three years old sitting on her lap with her arms round him. Both turn to face us. The mother is in a dress with a low neck, and a broad-brimmed hat with a feather. The child has nothing on except a black bonnet-cap with a white feather in it.
THE PAINTER AND HIS FIRST WIFE Under a bower of honeysuckle which occupies the whole background Rubens is seated facing us with his left leg thrown over his right. At his left side, and somewhat lower, Isabella Brant is half sitting, half kneeling nearly in profile to left. Both heads are turned full face as their glance meets ours. Their right hands rest together on Rubens' knee; her left is at her side, and his holds the pommel of his sword. She is richly dressed, and has a fine frilled ruff and high felt hat.
THE PAINTER AND HIS SECOND WIFE IN THEIR GARDEN The central figure in a ray of sunlight is Helena Fourment in a full gown with a white apron and broad-brimmed straw hat; she carries a feather fan in her right hand, and she is pausing as she advances towards the left to turn to a page who follows her. Rubens is on her right beyond her, and turns his glance on us. On the left is the pillared portico of their house, and in the back-round tall trees. In the foreground on the left a servant feeding a peacock, and on the right a dog and some more peafowl.
Painted c. 1630.
HELENA FOURMENT Half length, full face, in a low cut velvet dress and cap with a long feather. The hands at the waist, the right holding a glove.
HELENA FOURMENT AS A BRIDE Full length, facing us, seated in a chair, with her hands on the arm of it. In her hair is a sprig of orange-blossoms. She is richly dressed in a full gown, with a low neck, of brocaded satin with side pieces. Background a curtain looped up over a balustrade.
PORTRAIT OF JAN BRANT The father of the painter's first wife at the age of seventy-five. Threequarter length, seated, turned slightly to the right. Bareheaded, with moustache and pointed beard. He wears a black tunic and a pleated ruff. His elbows rest on the arm of his chair, and in his left hand he holds a book. Plain background with a shelf of books in the right-hand corner. Signed and dated 1635.
PORTRAIT OF DR. VAN THULDEN Three-quarter length, seated, turned slightly to the right, his hands on the arm of his chair, a large book in the left hand. A man of about forty, with slight moustache and beard. He is dressed in black, with a black silk gown with a high collar. Plain wall background with an opening on the right.
MELEAGER AND ATALANTA Atalanta sits facing us, her knees crossed, under a large tree to the left, and turns her head to Meleager, who stands at her side holding a huge boar's head, which a little cupid, standing with his back to us between the two, helps to support. Two or three large dogs are on at the extreme right and left.
THE BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS A great fight on horseback is proceeding on a bridge, under which and on either side are seen many more warriors struggling in the water. It is a scene of intense action, quite incapable of being adequately described in detail.
THE LION HUNT "A magnificent composition full of the wildest movement." Seven men, four of them mounted and three on foot, are struggling with a lion and lioness on an open plain. The centre of the group consists of the lion fixing his teeth in the body of a Moor who has fallen back headlong from his rearing white horse. Behind is another horseman in Roman armour cutting at the lion with his sword, and on the right a mounted Moor thrusting at him sideways with along lance. Under the horses a man lies dead, and on the left another man on the ground thrusts his sword into the mouth of the lioness. Behind him is another horseman, back to us, turning to lance the lion. On the extreme left another man on foot attacking the lioness with sword and shield.
Painted in 1616 for the Duke of Bavaria.
CASTOR AND POLLUX A single group that might almost be rendered in sculpture, in the fore ground of an undulating landscape. It is composed of two great horses, two men, and two nude women, the subject being the abduction of the daughters of Leucippus.In the very centre is one of the women being lifted between the two men, one of whom, on the left, is on his horse, and the other dismounted, his great grey charger rearing behind him. The other woman kneels below in the centre still resisting the dismounted man, who has caught her under the arm with his left hand while supporting her companion on his right shoulder. In charming contrast to this struggle is a little cupid hanging on to the horse's neck on the extreme left.
Painted c. 1620. The landscape is by Wildens.
A FRANCISCAN MONK Three-quarter length, standing, turned slightly to the right. A young man with a slight moustache and beard, his eyes fixed on ours. His cowl is thrown back over his neck. In his right hand he holds a small book, and in the left a skull.
Probably painted c. 1625-30.
DRUNKEN SILENUS The drunkard, quite nude, staggers forward to the left. In the background are ranged across the canvas on old woman, two satyrs on the left, and a negro, a young woman, and two more satyrs. In the foreground on the left a nude woman crouches forward suckling two infant satyrs who lie on the ground, and on the right a little nude child holds a goat by the horns.
THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS Before the portico of a Roman temple which occupies the right half of the middle ground is a central group of four agonised mothers, and on the right a larger and more confused group of men and women struggling, while the steps of the portico are crowded with Roman soldiers. On the left the background is open, showing buildings and a bright sky. In the left foreground is a separate group of even greater anguish. In the sky on the left is a group of angels.
THE RAINBOw LANDSCAPE This is practically identical in composition with the picture in the Wallace Collection.
TWO SATYRS A marvellously vivid picture of two satyrs, bust length, one of them full face holding a bunch of grapes, the other behind him in profile to the left drinking from a shallow cup.
Painted c. 1615.
SAMSON AND DELILAH In the centre the shorn Samson is rising from the couch with his arm held behind him by four stalwart Philistines. At the head of the couch on the left Delilah leans on her right hand, which still holds the shears, and turns her head to watch the struggle.
Painted c. 1612.
THE EARL AND COUNTESS OF ARUNDEL The Countess in the centre seated in a chair turned slightly to left, her right hand on the head of a great white hound whose body stretches to the extreme left of the canvas. The Earl stands on the extreme right with his right hand on the back of the chair. In the right foreground is a little boy, and beyond the hound, his right hand resting on its back, a stalwart dwarf, who with his left hand holds the lower edge of a hanging ornamented with an achievement of arms, which occupies the centre background. Beyond this on either side are four twisted columns. The foreground is an Oriental carpet. All four figures are sumptuously attired.
Painted in 1620.
THE GARLAND OF FRUIT A group of seven little naked children carrying a huge garland of fruit. One stands at either end in profile, two are seated underneath it, and the heads of the other three appear over it from behind.
THE NYMPHS OF DIANA Oblong. On the left, under shady trees in a glade which opens out into the background on the right, are three sleeping nymphs nude, and two satyrs peeping at the foremost from behind a tree trunk. The foreground is littered with dead game.
THE MIRACLE OF ST. ILDEFONSO The central panel of an altar-piece painted about I6IO for the Archduke Albert, Governor of the Netherlands. St. Ildefonso, Archbishop of Toledo in the seventh century, zealously upheld the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and was said to have been rewarded by the gift of a mantle from the Virgin herself. He is here represented on his knees before a throne on which Mary is seated, extending to him the miraculous garment. On each side are two attendant female saints, and above, in a flood of light, a group of boy angels. St, Ildefonso is in Cardinal's robe, his hat lying by the steps of the throne. The attendants are buxom Court ladies in contemporary attire.
On the left wing is the Archduke kneeling, with St. Albert in Cardinal's robes standing beside him; and on the right the Archduchess with St. Clara.
"In this work Rubens has succeeded in uniting a marvellous chiaroscuro with a brilliancy of colouring which is almost unique in the history of art." (Knackfuss.)
HELENA FOURMENT Full length, standing half to right, holding a Ion; cloak-her only garment -to her body with her left hand at her waist and her right on her left shoulder. Her head is turned nearly full face, and her eyes look to our left.
THE WORSHIP OF VENUS In the centre, under a group of tall shady trees, before a statue of Venus kneels a stout lady surrounded by a ring of little dancing cupids. In the left foreground is a group of three couples of nymphs and satyrs dancing. On the right under the trees are more dancing cupids, and on the extreme right two ladies are advancing with offerings. A very beautiful nymph stands on the right of Venus's statue, reaching up to it with left arm uplifted. In the background on the left is a temple on a mound. In the boughs of the trees more cupids are wreathing flowers and fruit.
CHRIST MOURNED At the mouth of a cavern the dead Christ lies with His shoulders supported between the knees of His mother, His feet towards us.
CIMON AND IPHEGENIA Iphebenia lies asleep under a tree, her head resting on the body of another nude woman-not asleep-whose shoulders rest on a balustrade behind a fountain on the left. A third woman, asleep, leans over the trunk of the tree. Behind, on the right, stands Cimon, the handsome young shepherd, leaning on his staff. In the right foreground a little monkey is sitting amidst a quantity of fruit.
SELF PORTRAIT Half length, standing by a pillar, the left hand on the sword hilt, the right gloved and holding the other -love hanging down. The artist, at about sixty years old, is in a black cloak, white falling ruff, and broad-brimmed black hat. He looks to our left.
THE HOLY FAMILY UNDER AN APPLE TREE The Virgin, in ample robes, sits on the right holding the Child. Both look down at the little St. John, who advances towards them with clasped hands upraised; St. Elizabeth follows, supporting his body) and behind her Zacharias. In the boughs of the apple-tree, which is in the centre, are two cupids. St. Joseph is dimly seen in the shade behind the Virgin.
ST. AMBROSE AND THE EMPEROR THEODOSIUS On the steps of the door of the temple on the right the Bishop in mitre and cope stands facing the Emperor, forbidding him to advance farther. The latter is a short, burly, full-bearded man, bareheaded, in Roman armour and cloak, and he looks up at the Bishop with his right arm bent. Behind him on the left stand three very stout Roman soldiers. Behind St. Ambrose are one or two clergy, and (in the foreground) a chorister with his back to us holding a large lighted candle.
VIENNA, LICHTENSTEIN GALLERY
THE PAINTER'S TWo SONS Albert, the elder boy, in black silk slashed tunic and knee breeches, with a broad-brimmed black hat, is standing with his left arm on the pedestal of a large pillar on our right, the hand holding a furred glove being just behind the shoulder of his younger brother. The latter, in a lighter silk suit, bareheaded, stands nearly in profile to left, his left foot in advance, his right hand holding the perch from which a little bird has just flown off, and his left the string to which the bird is tied. Albert has a look under his right arm, and his glance meets ours. His brother is intent on the bird.
"This group is one of the greatest masterpieces in the art of portraiture The two boys literally live before us." (Knackfuss.)
A replica is at Dresden.
THE ADORATION OF THE KINGS A huge oblong picture painted for the Guildhall at Antwerp in 1610. At the foot of the tall pedestal of a fluted column on the extreme left the Virgin stands bending over the Holy Child, with St. Joseph behind her. A bright light emanates from the Child Himself, strongly illuminating the surrounding figures. Before Him kneels Caspar with a tiny page at his side. In the very centre, but farther back, stands Melchior with long white beard, in a full plain robe, a page at his side holding his offering, next to whom to our left stands the negro Baltasar. Over their heads are two cherubim. In the right foreground are two nearly nude figures of old men stooping, and on the extreme right a man holding a horse. The background to the right is filled with the retinue of the Magi, dimly lighted by braziers and torches.
MARIE DE MEDICI Three-quarter length, seated slightly to right, her eyes meeting ours, her left hand at her waist, her right farther forward. She is dressed as a widow in black, with a large and elaborate lace ruff and cuffs.
Probably painted in 1622.
THE GARDEN OF LOVE Oblong. A continuous group of over a dozen richly attired men and women ranging across the picture in front of the portico of a palace, On the left a couple stand embracing each other attended by a cupid, and on the right a man and two women are standing; the rest are seated.
A very similar composition is in the Munich Gallery, the figures being smaller and the group divided in the centre.
LE COUP DE LANCE Christ on the cross, between the two thieves, turned half to the left. A mounted soldier on the left, his horse's head away from us, leans back in the saddle as he thrusts his lance upwards into the Saviour's side. In the right foreground are 5t. John and the holy women.
Painted in 1620 for the Church of St. Francis.
PERSEUS AND ANDROMEDA A composition similar to that at Berlin, but reversed, and with several variations. Perseus is bareheaded and carries a round shield with the Gorgon's head on it, and above him is a half-length figure of Victory crowning him with a wreath. The cupids are less prominent and differently disposed.
HELENA FOURDMENT Full length, standing facing us, her hands crossed at her waist, a feather fan in the left. She is in a rich dark dress cut low at the neck, and a broad-brimmed hat with a feather.
( Originally Publihed 1910 )