Wednesday, 12 November 2014

What's this Rubens?

I am very pleased that this series of art critiques is proving popular judging by the number of new readers on my stats. But it is you, my loyal readers, to whom I should be grateful for your return visits, encouraging and often witty comments, and for suggesting artists and painters for me to research and critique.

I still owe Manny one more critique which I am currently working on. He has set me a real challenge I fear. 

But today we take a closer look at Sir Peter Paul Rubens as suggested by Mary. If you have not visited her Blog yet I urge you to do so. Mary has not been Blogging often lately but I assure you that when she does, whether it is a humourous post, or one of her serious devotionals, they are posts well worth reading. You can visit her HERE.

Peter Paul Rubens lived between 1577 and 1640 and was a very famous Flemish painter of the period.

He was a prolific artist and his works were mostly religious subjects, as well as a lot of mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. He also painted portraits of friends, as well as several landscapes. Basically, you name it, and he painted it. Except of course the garden gate and fence which remained un-painted despite being told and nagged many times by his wife. Believe me, I know the feeling; I have still to paint the garage door although in my opinion it looks fine ... you know how some women are? Always going on and on about the same thing ... I mean, I painted the wretched door three years ago. Why does it need re-painting?

Anyway, back to Rubens. He painted on canvas, slate as well as wood it seems. In fact he painted on anything except of course the wooden gate and fence which I've already mentioned. (I can hear voices in my head saying "Paint the garage door" - how can you switch your conscience off?)

Now one thing you'll notice about most of his paintings, (except landscapes), is that he had a special penchant, (fondness), for painting fully-rounded and plump women; hence the term "Rubensian" or "Rubenesque" to describe women of a certain size. None of these skinny models you see in modern magazines, for Rubens. They had to be fairly big and rotund. This is because he had a lot of flesh coloured paint to get rid off, and since no one paints gates and fences this colour he painted nudes instead.

In 1630, four years after the death of his first wife, at the age of 53, Rubens married his 16 years old niece, Hélène Fourment.

You can see her in the painting above, known as "Hélène Fourment in a Fur Wrap", getting out of the bath. Most people would use a towel I suppose, but there were none available that day - so a fur wrap it was. As you can see, she is no skinny lady is she?

The young niece inspired the voluptuous figures in Rubens paintings from 1630 onwards. The most famous of which is "The Three Graces",

I'm not sure which one is Ruben's niece, but judging from the colour of her hair I'd guess it's the woman on the left.

Now I can understand a painter wishing to paint nudes, nothing wrong with that I suppose, especially if you have bought a lot of paint which you want to use up before its "sell-by" date. So, asking a few people to model for you is in this case acceptable, I guess. But to actually paint your own wife naked, and then display the painting for all to see ... Well, that's another matter.

Can you imagine him saying, as she steps out of the bath, "Hold it there, darling! Just wrap this piece of fur delicately around you, showing enough interesting bits ... Don't worry about the fur moulting. It was a mangy old dog anyway; and you can have another bath. Let me get my paint brush!"

And then displaying the finished painting is like a modern day man taking a photo of his wife naked and posting it on social media for all to see. How would you react I wonder?

Can you imagine the conversation in the supermarket when Rubens' young wife met her friends?

"Oh ... you have put on some weight dear? Especially on the derrière!"

Or ...

"It's a good painting really. You should be proud of your healthy features. Do you think your husband would paint me naked? I have a lovely tattoo on my bottom!"

You can add your own imagined discussions below; and also, suggest more masterpieces for me to research and critique.


  1. Before "I" write a review here, "I" think that "I" will have Victor #2 search up a little about this man's cells and seeing that Victor won't read books, we gods will have him start here below:

    God Bless

  2. Hi Victor! Well, these ladies make me feel a lot better about the status of my derriere and thighs. Wow, those are some serious creases.
    I think Rubens was very popular because he made us all feel better about our physique. But marrying your niece? At 16? Ugh. That gives me pause...uh oh. I think I just popped some more cellulite on my leg. I blame Rubens!!!

    1. Ceil you have a wonderful sense of humour, bless you. That's a new one on me - Rubens painted rotund people to make us look better.

      Yes, I wondered too about marrying one's niece; regardless of her age. What does she call him? Uncle? Husband? Or lunatic?

      I look forward to your suggestions for me to research and critique.

      God bless you and your sense of humour.

  3. I am laughing to much after the post and your chat with Ceil to comment! YOU GUYS!

    1. Laughter is good for you Lulu. It releases dolphins within us which tickle us from the inside.

      God bless you.

  4. Lol - funny story, Victor! Ceil is right, Rubens makes the women of today feel A LOT better about themselves!
    (By the way, you and my husband have very similar thoughts on painting. Or on not painting I should say :)
    Thank you for the kind words about my blog!

  5. Hi Mary,

    Your husband is right. What is the point of painting the garage door if it will need painting again anyway? Or painting the inside of the house, or putting up wall paper, or cutting the grass which grows all the faster. Much better to have a beer and watch TV.

    Thanx for visiting here Mary; and for keeping up your Blog.

    More art critiques soon. Suggestions always welcome.

    God bless.

  6. LOL, he looks like a dirty old man who is attractive to chubby women.

    1. I see your point. The thing is, many famous painters painted nudes; and their works were and still are admired.

      God bless.

  7. Victor, I don't know where you come up with some of these comments but I sure am glad you do. You're sense of humor is a gift - thank you for sharing it.

    God Bless you.

    1. It's good to laugh every now and then, Michael.

      God bless you too.



God bless you.