February 3, 2013

A Touch of Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens was undoubtedly one of the most sensuous of Baroque painters. Everything about his rendering of human skin was resplendent beyond the flesh of mere mortals. A fallen Amazon in his Battle of the Trojans and Amazons was painted as if she were a lush oyster offered up for the feast. Even his rendition of Christ on the cross was more sensual than spiritual. Christ’s flesh was painted to look like polished alabaster with the crucifixion marks so tiny as to look like nothing more than rosebuds. In Rubens’ robust scenes of amorous adventures, the cavorting people - and sometimes half-people- often border on the kinky. I stood in front of one such bucolic scene and made a quick pencil sketch, which I just blackened with charcoal and white pastel for a more dramatic effect. In the original painting, Rubens managed to make the man’s romantic partner look coy and seductive. My rendering, I think, makes her look somewhat overwhelmed. Would that I had the delicate touch of a Rubens!

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