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Peter Paul Rubens: Analysis Of Venus & Adonis

1353 words - 6 pages

-Was only marked down for using internet sources because the instructor preferred text.Flemish artist, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was the most prolific painter of the seventeenth century. Working in the Baroque style, he created an insurmountable number of works, over two thousand (Strickland, 1992, p. 50). To this day, his works have had a substantial impact on the course of art history, influencing such artists as Eugene Delacroix and Jean-Honore Fragonard (Loadstone, 2005). Creating works with subjects ranging from religious, to mythological, to secular, et cetera, Rubens proved himself multifaceted. Although all of Rubens' works reflect his familiar style, Venus and Adonis (Figure 1) ...view middle of the document...

Although important commissioners throughout all of Europe were familiar with and sought after Rubens' work, it was in his birthplace of Antwerp that Rubens created most of his paintings, including Venus and Adonis (Wikipedia, 2006). In his studio in Antwerp, Rubens enlisted the help of assistants to help him keep up with demand. One assistant, now famed painter, Sir Anthony van Dyck, can credit Rubens with providing a starting point to van Dyck's career (Wikipedia, 2006). Rubens inherited characteristics of many painting styles in his travels throughout Europe. Rubens' works reflect his seamless amalgamation of the styles and concepts of Northern and Southern Europe (Strickland, 1992, p. 50).Inspired by Titian's Venus and Adonis (1555-1560), Rubens' celebrated painting, Venus and Adonis (c. 1635), tells the dramatic mythological story of Venus, the goddess of love, trying desperately to restrain her lover, Adonis, from departing on a boar hunt, where he will surely meet his death (Adams, 2001, p. 344). Although Rubens spent much time studying and sketching classical nude sculptures, it becomes obvious that his paintings bare no resemblance to these sculptures (Spitzli, n.d.). As an energy driven man himself, Rubens brought that energy to his works (Strickland, 1992, p. 50). He abandoned the static presence of sculpture by creating movement in the picture plane. Upon viewing Venus and Adonis, it is as though the figures are going to resume their roles before your very eyes.Rubens' works are often recognized by his sensuous portrayal of women. In Venus and Adonis, Rubens depicts Venus as a fleshy, rosy cheeked, golden haired woman with luminous skin and abundant breasts (Strickland, 1992, p. 50). The term "Rubenesque" came to be used as a descriptor for women with this appearance (Wikipedia, 2006). Rubens married twice in his life (remarried after his first wife's death); both women were his ideal type, Rubenesque. Perhaps his happy marriage to these women was the inspiration for his distinctive portrayal of women. Possibly his ideal woman was the result of the Flemish idea that plump was associated with wealth (Adams, 2001, p. 345). Perhaps a combination of his wives and Flemish ideals inspired his fleshy depictions.Rubens used color, light, shadow, and composition to place emphasis on Venus and Adonis. The saturated, crimson garb that wraps around Adonis' sculpted physique dominates the other colors within the painting. Venus, however, becomes the focus of the painting through Rubens' use of light and shadow. Venus is of a much lighter value than all the surrounding elements in the painting. The strong diagonals created by Venus and Adonis draw the viewer's eye to the lovers.Venus has her arms wrapped around Adonis' bicep as she pulls him toward her, gazing up at his face. With one arm positioned in the direction of his departure, a spear in hand...

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