Saturday, September 14, 2013

Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens was a Northern Baroque painter of the 17th century, who in a time of more reserved spiritual paintings was exactly the opposite. Rubens was raised to have such a deep catholic faith that he almost dared the inquisition to question his paintings. His paintings have a sense of dramatic theatricality and brutal depictions that are truly captivating.

 The Elevation of the Cross is an oil on wood with three panels, although the middle panel is the most focused upon. The painting was originally intended for the main altar of Saint Walburga, but is now located in the transept of the Cathedral in Antwerp. In the painting you see 9 men struggling to raise the wooden cross that Christ is nailed to. Ruben’s makes you feel like you are there with his painting. You can clearly see how much they are struggling to lift the heavy cross into place. You can hear them grunting and the rope straining as they are at mid raise. The diagonal movement of the painting brings a sense of drama that Ruben’s is so well known for.

The Drunken Hercules is an Oil painting by Ruben’s that I found specifically interesting. In the painting you immediately see the massive Hercules who appears to be intoxicated. His hand is barely holding his drink, which looks like he could spill or drop at any moment. He is being supported by mythical Satyrs (half-goat, half-men) and Wood Nymphs (beautiful, near-nubile maidens) who are dancing to display their servitude to the goddess of grape harvest, Dionysus. 

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