For the great Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), the classical past afforded lifelong creative stimulus and the camaraderie of humanist friends. A formidable scholar, Rubens ingeniously transmitted the physical ideals of ancient sculptors, visualized the spectacle of imperial occasions, rendered the intricacies of mythological tales, and delineated the character of gods and heroes in his drawings, paintings, and designs for tapestries. His passion for antiquity profoundly informed every aspect of his art and life.
Including 170 color illustrations, this volume addresses the creative impact of Rubens’s remarkable knowledge of the art and literature of antiquity through the consideration of key themes. The book’s lively interpretive essays explore the formal and thematic relationships between ancient sources and Baroque expressions: the significance of neo-Stoic philosophy, the compositional and iconographic inspiration provided by exquisite carved gems, Rubens’s study of Roman marble sculpture, and his inventive translation of ancient sources into new subjects made vivid by his dynamic painting style.
This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa from November 10, 2021, to January 24, 2022.
“The mythical Gorgon Medusa petrified the flesh and blood of those who beheld her. Rubens reversed the metamorphosis. He transformed the ancient sculptures that stood at the center of his art from stone back into flesh and blood. This exhibition and its catalogue display and explain that powerful process of artistic creation, presenting it vividly and lucidly to visitors and readers alike.”—Jeffrey Muller, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Brown University
“Rubens's paintings speak directly to the emotions, but a real understanding of his work is only possible if we recognize that his worldview was permeated by antiquity. Not only a great introduction, this book also provides many new insights into Rubens's love and comprehensive knowledge of classical art and literature.”—Friso Lammertse, Curator of 17th-Century Dutch and Flemish Painting, Rijksmuseum
“Exceptionally well presented and impressively informative.”
“[A] handsomely-produced book. . . . Superbly illustrated.”~Robert Beddard