Rubens

<em>The Three Graces</em> Peter Paul Rubens

The Three Graces Peter Paul Rubens

    The Museo del Prado is concluding its 2010 exhibition programme with an exhibition devoted to its collection of works by Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen, 1577-Antwerp, 1640). Its unique presentation has been specially designed to encourage the visiting public to enter the world of Rubens in an open-minded manner and to establish a dialogue between their own emotions and the power and creative richness of the artist. Using dramatic juxtapositions, the Museum will be displaying the 90 works that constitute its entire holdings of the artist’s works, which is the most important to be found in a single institution. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Prado is presenting an extensive documentary on Rubens that has again been created with the aim of making the artist more immediately accessible to the contemporary viewpoint.

    Thursday 04 November 2010

    The Museum’s Rubens galleries are temporarily closed for re-modelling as part of the Prado’s Second Extension plan. As a result, and over the course of more than two months, the Museum is inviting the public to enter into the vibrant artistic universe of this great and highly prolific Flemish painter through an innovative type of display of its important holdings of autograph works by Rubens and works by his studio. In addition, it is the first time for a decade that all these paintings, which constitute one of the core groups within the Museum’s collections, can all be seen on display together at one time. The Prado houses the largest and one of the world’s finest collections of works by Rubens, an artist whose extremely extensive oeuvre is now divided between numerous different institutions.

    In order to help the visitor to become truly immersed in the world of Rubens and to grasp his remarkable creative powers, the exhibition’s curator has devised an unusual type of display in which the 90 works are presented in chronological order in the manner of linked sequences within a single, panoramic “take”, in cinematographic terms.

    The exhibition

    The arrangement of the exhibition, which is displayed in two large galleries, allows for a clear appreciation of the evolution of Rubens’ style and his manner of approaching large-scale works. In the first room (A) the visitor can see early works by the artist which are notably “Michelangelesque” in style. Here Rubens appears as a great classical sculptor whose aim was to convey the power of forms and their expressive force. Saint George and the Dragon is a perfect example of the monumental style typical of this early period with its strong, solid figures.

    Also notable in this room is the great Apostle Series. It includes various canvases that have not been on display in recent years, including Saint Matthew (ca.1610-1612).

    Another major series is that of the Torre de la Parada, which occupies part of the second gallery (B). For the first time in over a decade visitors can see the complete series, which was commissioned by Philip IV for a hunting pavilion at El Pardo in the mountains near Madrid. This room also includes works from the last years of Rubens' career in which he focused on the narrative potential of his compositions and on a desire to convey their poetic content. The landscape of Atalanta and Meleager hunting the Calydonean Boar (ca.1635) is displayed next to Diana and her Nymphs surprised by Satyrs (1638-1640), revealing Rubens’ love of the countryside and his profound empathy with the vitality of nature.

    The Prado’s collection of Rubens reflects the thematic diversity to be found in the artist’s work and includes mythological, religious and historical compositions as well as portraits and landscapes. Among these works are some of his greatest masterpieces, such as Saint George and the Dragon (ca.1607), The Adoration of the Magi (1609), Saint Paul (ca.1611), The Garden of Love (ca.1633), The Three Graces (ca.1635), Nymphs and Satyrs (ca.1635), Hercules and Cerberus (ca.1636), Village Dance (1636-1640), Diana and her Nymphs surprised by Satyrs (1638-1640), and Diana and Callisto (1638-1640); ten examples from the astonishing and unique creative universe of the artist who remained Philip IV’s preferred painter until his death and who can be considered one of the greatest painters of all times.

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