The Paintings Of Rubens And His Legacy

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 109 months ago
The Paintings Of Rubens And His Legacy ★★★★☆ 4
Peter Paul Rubens
 Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt, 1616
 Oil on canvas, 256 x 324.5 cm
 Rennes, Musee des Beaux Arts
 Photo c. MBA, Rennes, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Adelaide Beaudoin
 PLEASE NOTE: This image must be reproduced no larger than one-quarter print page
This Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt is full of energy and the scale of it is breathtaking. It's easy to see why this is the poster image for the exhibition. Rennes, Musee des Beaux Arts
Peter Paul Rubens
 Pan and Syrinx, 1617
 Oil on panel, 40 x 61 cm
 Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Gemaeldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel
 Photo: Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Gemaeldegalerie Alte Meister/Ute Brunzel
Rubens was known for including a lot of lust in his paintings including this one of Pan and Syrinx. Copyright Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Gemaeldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel
Peter Paul Rubens
 The Garden of Love, c. 1633
 Oil on canvas, 199 x 286 cm
 Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid
 Photo c. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
As well as violence and biblical scenes Rubens could also pull off a more idyllic painting such as The Garden of Love. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Paul Cezanne
 Three Bathers, c. 1875
 Oil on canvas, 30.5 x 33 cm
 Private Collection
 Photo: Ali Elai, Camerarts
The influence of Rubens stretches to impressionism, including works by Renoir and these Three Bathers by Cezanne
Jean-Antoine Watteau
 La Surprise: A Couple Embracing While a Figure Dressed as mezzetin Tunes a Guitar, 1718-19
 Oil on panel, 36.3 x 28.2 cm 
 Private Collection
 Photo: Private Collection
Jean-Antoine Watteau's romantic scenes such as La Surprise owe a debt to Rubens
Eugene Delacroix
 Crucifixion, 1846
 Oil on panel, 37 x 25 cm
 Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam/Photographer: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam
Eugene Delacroix's powerfully emotive Crucifixion builds on the dramatic style of Rubens. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

The Royal Academy attempts to capture Peter Paul Rubens's legacy within this blockbuster show. It's certainly a challenging task: this fantastic artist travelled and painted extensively across Europe and  mastered many genres from epic biblical scenes through to portraiture. Does it succeed?

The show starts off strong with the old stalwart that is British landscapes, and through comparison it's easy to see how Rubens influenced the likes of Turner, John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough — evidence enough that he was a major influence on the evolution of British art.

But this exhibition doesn't stop here and by placing paintings by Rubens next to other artists, it's clear to see his legacy within Eugene Delacroix's crucifixion scene, Murillo's dramatic conversion of St. Paul and the portraits of his pupil Van Dyck. The influence of his fleshy nudes can even be seen in an impressionist work by Cezanne.

This is quite the legacy for this 'prince of painters' and, as many of his large scale works can't be moved, there is a nice added touch of a film of the ceiling of Banqueting House and the 24 painting series in the Louvre. Despite this addition the exhibition does feel light on pieces by Rubens, though this didn't stop us enjoying the show.

The only thing we didn't like was a room curated by the artist Jenny Saville, which felt haphazard and out of place in this otherwise superbly curated exhibition filled with great works.

Rubens and his legacy: Van Dyck to Cezanne is on at Royal Academy of Arts from 24 January to 10 April. Tickets are £15 for adults, concessions are available.

Also see our list of  places to see works by Rubens in London and the other major exhibitions we're looking forward to this year.

Last Updated 21 January 2015