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Rubens and his Legacy | Royal Academy

Rubens and his Legacy | Royal Academy

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Royal Academy | Ends 10th April 2015 | £16.50

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The headlining flemish Master painter is in good company at the Royal Academy's latest exhibition showing him alongside a selection of those who are known to have studied his work. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp and the Royal Academy in London have successfully brought together the works of prestigious names in art history.


The likes of Rembrandt 1606-1669, Constable 1776–1837 , Delacroix, 1798–1863, Cézanne, 1839–1906, Renoir 1841–1919, Picasso, 1881 – 1973 & even Sarah Lucas, b.1962 all feature amongst many more in this star-studded display. Does this translate into a quality show, or does it leave the artists competing for your attention...


Four centuries after his death his artistic influence is still felt in Europe & this exhibition certainly demonstrates this with notable inclusions from each century since. His impact upon different genres of art from Romanticism to Impressionism & Landscape painting is clear to see. His involvement in the latter provided the impetus for Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable & JMW Turner to explore nature beyond reality by injecting a romantic ideal based somewhere between the real world & the imagined. Rubens ultimately introduced a subtle sensibility to his landscapes, which captured the imaginations of these celebrated artists.    

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                      Landscape with Rainbow, 1630 by Rubens


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                The Forest of Bere, 1808 by JMW Turner


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 The Harvest Wagon, 1767 by Thomas Gainsborough        Hampstead Heath, Branch Hill Pond, 1828 by John Constable


Four hundred years is also a passage of time that detaches his work from the contemporary world we find ourselves in today.The RA attempt to overcome this with a clever invitation of a contemporary artist to curate a section of the show dedicated to modern works. Painter Jenny Saville has curated a room of paintings, including one of her own, to comment on the connection between the Old Master & the modern day. Freud 1922-2011, Bacon 1909-1992, Warhol 1928-1987 & Rebecca Warren b. 1965 are all included in a room dedicated to, but not featuring the lead Rubens. This is also the stage of the show that Sarah Lucas b. 1962, makes an appearence with 2 sculptures of provocative eroticism that the artist is famed for.This welcome addition to the show, titled 'La Peregrina' forms the final curtain to the exhibition & successfully connects the four centuries that Rubens legacy stretch.    

The entire exhibition is split into 6 key themes; Poetry, Elegance, Power, Compassion, Violence & Lust. It features 158 works with the Rubenesque use of expressive force, violence & exposed flesh inherent in all. Of these 158 pieces, however, only 35 are attributed to Rubens himself. This provides a course of curiosity during the show as it leaves its audience perplexed querying whether their appetite for the Old Master has been satisfied.   


It may not be of question had the Rubens paintings that many artists allude to been included in the show. As it is many of the Rubens paintings that bore inspiration to the works on display are not physcially included.


A highlight & saviour of the show can be found in Rubens' spectacular 'Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt', 1616. Large in scale & truly inspiring, 400 years later it still has the ability to leave it's viewer breathless... The Royal Academy seem to have presented a somewhat controversial show here solely due to the absense of many Rubens works. Sometimes less is said to be more, however we pose the question to those who attend.., Has your thirst for Rubens been quenched??


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                       Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt', 1616 by Rubens

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