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saintlukesguild
02-21-2006, 09:52 PM
Le Chapeau de Paille


This is not intended as competition for the Michael Sweerts analysis going on. It is a little diversion while Margie digs up more dirt.

Le Chapeau is the property of the National Gallery in London (NGL). They suggest the French word “paille,” meaning straw, is a misunderstanding of “poil,” meaning felt. This makes perfect sense. No eyes, then or now, could look at that hat and imagine straw. Paille, or poil, could be dropped, leaving THE HAT as the soul title of this painting. For the hat is the first and predominate element of the pictorial design. What pizzazz! What bravura of dramatic sweep! And that is exactly what bothered me, and what cranked my train of thought to this analysis.

When my eye stopped on her face, or the plane of her delectable bosom, my peripheral vision got a jolt from that hat brim. This happened consistently, and I finally decided that hat brim with black feather reach was excessive and out of balance. It was like the hat was made of black taffy, and someone had pinched the brim and stretched it and left a black flap hanging down. My scrutiny of this painting revealed ambiguities, to my eye, some of them amounting to flaws. Here is the picture with numbers to indicate puzzling areas and what I thought about them.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2006/37454-Numbered_flaws.jpg

(1) is a vertical formation in the vaporous atmosphere, rising from her left shoulder to the top of the panel. This makes little visual sense. (2) is the white puff of her right shoulder sleeve. (3) is the partial white puff sleeve counterpart on her left shoulder. But what are we to make of (4)? There is a long bolt of drapery running behind her neck and over her shoulders and under or over and under her arms. I will call this the “shawl.” There is a clear line of delineation between the shawl and the bunch of scallops that make up (4) I think those scallop lines were meant to be the rest of the cotton ball sleeve, and they are bunched because the weight of the shawl is pressing down on it. Also, the shawl line seems to be running behind the bunch at (4) There is a smudge of light on the outer edge of area (4) that might indicate the only attempt to begin painting a white sleeve. Whatever, the area of (4) is unfinished. The red sleeve augments that opinion. The red stops like it is at the edge of a cliff, overlooking a dim area of gray/black at the bottom of (4). Unfinished, pure and simple.

I have no doubt NGL can track the provenance of this painting to Rubens’ workshop. But to his workshop is not the same as to a brush in his hand. NGL says this is “probably” Susanna Fourment. That carries an opposite probability it is not Susanna. At this point I am almost convinced Rubens did not paint this, and the subject is not Susanna Fourment. For a Wet Canvas duffer to make such a statement could be seen as arrogance leaping into sheer idiocy. I have never let my own idiocy stand in the way of crafting unshakable opinions. A large part of my craft here is associated with the literal craft of the cabinet maker.

NGL also pointed out that extra wood was added to the original panel, at our right hand side and at the bottom. Presumably after the painting was well under way. Here is a picture that shows three perfectly straight lines on the painting that must be cracks in the glue joints. The example here is from a Rubens book published in 1968. I checked three other books at the library, and they all showed the same thing. Today, those glue cracks might be restored. I have no idea.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2006/37454-cracks.jpg

Using those lines, I can crop back to the original panel size.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2006/37454-Rubens_cropped.jpg

Lo and behold! Given this framing, the hat brim sweep is not so out of balance after all. The puzzling areas of (1) and (4) are eliminated entirely. The white of (3) says all necessary that (2) is being restated on her left shoulder. In fact, this is all well balanced and sweeter and cozier than the expanded version. With one horrendous exception - the cropped arms and hands at the bottom. That’s a no-no. That simply wasn’t done in Rubens’ time. I like to imagine Rubens walking into the cubicle and shouting “My God, boy! Haven’t you learned anything? You’ve sliced her arms and hands away like the abomination of 20th century photo cropping!” In Rubens’ time, body parts in the foreground did not abruptly disappear. If a hand was lit, there had to be an arm and elbow to go with it. Although the elbow and shoulder above could quickly dissolve into dense black chiaroscuro, there had to be a faint stroke of light to indicate an elbow making a wrinkle in the robe or whatever. Rubens knew this. So did private citizens that bought his product. That is why I think this was done by an apprentice. He was so caught up in his idea of THE HAT that the volume of it forced him to pant all below in proportion, and he painted himself into a corner. The painting was sent to the cabinet maker for enlargement, so that the apprentice could paint himself out of his self-imposed corner. This was a salvage job. To make a marketable product for Rubens’ inventory that he could sell entirely for his own profit. He might have done some final touch up, or his brush might not have touched it at all.

Another way to look at this is an imaginary trip through Rubens’ eyes. If this really is Susanna, elder sister of his child bride, and he desired to paint her, would he have chosen what amounts to a student sized practice panel? (The full size is 31 x 21 ½ inches. Take away the bottom and side boards that were added, and … well, you can do the math, but it is a small.) It seems highly unlikely to me that he would have. Here is the clincher. Even if he did choose that size panel, would the stupendous, giant among giants, Peter Paul Rubens be unable to scale his subject size to fit his panel? Particularly a single female in an uncluttered setting? That he painted himself into a corner and had to send the panel to a carpenter to add extra wood? That is impossible for me to believe.

One serious problem with my argument is the image left when I computer cropped away the added wood is not what was painted before the wood was added. I don’t know what stage the painting was, whether it was the most preliminary blocking in or what. An X-ray image could go a long way telling us how far towards completion the painting was before the wood was added. I will bet my life NGL has such an X-ray. But NGL is not user friendly to me. I wanted to prowl around their technical bulletins and got nowhere. No table of contents, index, nothing. Also, I am something of a computer idiot. Many here seemingly can find cyber links to anything anywhere in the world. If someone could dig up an X-ray of this, I would be most grateful. It might show stuff that makes me a total idiot, just as we all thought to begin with. Until Sherlock Nickel finds the cyber explanation to this puzzle, I will still ask: why were those panels added?

Whoever painted this, I rate it one of the loveliest, most charming, luminous, eye catching paintings in all the historical catalogue of painting. Never mind the woeful flaws. :angel:

Luke

bjs0704
02-21-2006, 11:30 PM
Oh, Thanks so much for starting an Analyze This, Luke! :clap: :clap: :clap:

Barb Solomon:cat:

Nickel
02-21-2006, 11:43 PM
I read you, I will look around, here is a nice pic that shows her fairly well.
When you click on the link, enlarge the window, then in the lower right corner scroll your little arrow around, you should see a button to click to enlarge the painting. Click it, Maybe I will find a zoom. Pop some popcorn, it may take a little time. :wave:

http://www.arlindo-correia.com/rubens6.jpg


Not to be too funny, but maybe the term measure twice cut once was not invented yet?

Here is the link to the home of above http://www.arlindo-correia.com/100404.html

Nickel
02-22-2006, 11:45 PM
I have no doubt NGL can track the provenance of this painting to Rubens’ workshop. But to his workshop is not the same as to a brush in his hand. NGL says this is “probably” Susanna Fourment. That carries an opposite probability it is not Susanna. At this point I am almost convinced Rubens did not paint this, and the subject is not Susanna Fourment.

Ok as counter to your thoughts, I think maybe Rubens did paint her and that it is Susanna Fourment, or at least who is thought to be Susanna Fourment.

I will be back with some images for your viewing pleasure.

And the reasons why I think Rubens did paint this painting.

Please bear in mind, I have only spent a short while in reviewing websites. Scholarship and technical analysis is short in supply. No x-ray yet that I have seen or mentioned. Means nothing that I haven't seen it.





For a Wet Canvas duffer to make such a statement could be seen as arrogance leaping into sheer idiocy. I have never let my own idiocy stand in the way of crafting unshakable opinions. A large part of my craft here is associated with the literal craft of the cabinet maker.

Here in your statement, "craft of the cabinet maker" lies a source of truth.


NGL also pointed out that extra wood was added to the original panel, at our right hand side and at the bottom. Presumably after the painting was well under way. Here is a picture that shows three perfectly straight lines on the painting that must be cracks in the glue joints. The example here is from a Rubens book published in 1968. I checked three other books at the library, and they all showed the same thing. Today, those glue cracks might be restored. I have no idea.

I found a small round-the-bush reference that leads me to believe this could have been a comman pratice in the workshop with sketches. One can consider if the painting started out as a sketch and progressed into a painting.

One steps inside the mind of a great and kind man such as Rubens, one can think that he was pleasing someone he loved in going from a sketch into a painting. The painting may have not been the orginal intent. As artists, we have to give him credit that he might not have intended at the start to create a complete work. He may have decided at a later time to finish her. Reasons can vary.




Lo and behold! Given this framing, the hat brim sweep is not so out of balance after all. The puzzling areas of (1) and (4) are eliminated entirely. The white of (3) says all necessary that (2) is being restated on her left shoulder. In fact, this is all well balanced and sweeter and cozier than the expanded version. With one horrendous exception - the cropped arms and hands at the bottom. That’s a no-no. That simply wasn’t done in Rubens’ time.

Look at the "Infant with Bird" same problem, chopped off hand????

I like to imagine Rubens walking into the cubicle and shouting “My God, boy! Haven’t you learned anything? You’ve sliced her arms and hands away like the abomination of 20th century photo cropping!” In Rubens’ time, body parts in the foreground did not abruptly disappear. If a hand was lit, there had to be an arm and elbow to go with it. Although the elbow and shoulder above could quickly dissolve into dense black chiaroscuro, there had to be a faint stroke of light to indicate an elbow making a wrinkle in the robe or whatever. Rubens knew this. So did private citizens that bought his product. That is why I think this was done by an apprentice. He was so caught up in his idea of THE HAT that the volume of it forced him to pant all below in proportion, and he painted himself into a corner. The painting was sent to the cabinet maker for enlargement, so that the apprentice could paint himself out of his self-imposed corner. This was a salvage job. To make a marketable product for Rubens’ inventory that he could sell entirely for his own profit. He might have done some final touch up, or his brush might not have touched it at all.

Exactly true, it might have been a salvage job, but one done to please from a sketch. It may really have been Rubens as I think above, but it may not have been a project that he would have made money on. Could be it was a "freebie." There by the make-do approach. What shopkeeper does not want to make money? The only way to make money is to sell more or reduce cost. Same today as before.


Another way to look at this is an imaginary trip through Rubens’ eyes. If this really is Susanna, elder sister of his child bride, and he desired to paint her, would he have chosen what amounts to a student sized practice panel?

I don't know, do you think he liked her when he painted her? Think about emotions, maybe he did , and maybe he didn't. What would you think an artist would do if he had to paint a picture of his sister-in-law and he didn't like her at the time? You would not paint on a nice piece of panel. Go grab that piece over in the corner, gesso it, and bring it to me, I need to do this so I can go ride in the country side, and eat dinner by 5. You know Ruben did not eat meat.


(The full size is 31 x 21 ½ inches. Take away the bottom and side boards that were added, and … well, you can do the math, but it is a small.) It seems highly unlikely to me that he would have. Here is the clincher. Even if he did choose that size panel, would the stupendous, giant among giants, Peter Paul Rubens be unable to scale his subject size to fit his panel? Particularly a single female in an uncluttered setting? That he painted himself into a corner and had to send the panel to a carpenter to add extra wood? That is impossible for me to believe.

What do you think now?

Until Sherlock Nickel finds the cyber explanation to this puzzle, I will still ask: why were those panels added?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Feb-2006/39040-ppie.gif

Honest, I need a month, I have research work I can dust off, I have promised others information too.

Whoever painted this, I rate it one of the loveliest, most charming, luminous, eye catching paintings in all the historical catalogue of painting. Never mind the woeful flaws. :angel:

Luke


Why thank you very much! Elvis has left the building:wave: ribbit:music:


I will say he appears to be a good and decent man.

However, knowing current workshops, yes they still exist, there is unfortunately artists who sign work as their own painted by their workers.

Is this fair if the artist taught most everthing they know to their student?
The student learned so well that they now can paint as well as the
master artist. Only problem is the master has the name to sell work.

You tell me. I have an opinion. What would you do to eat and have a roof over your families head, keep them warm and safe?

Nickel
02-23-2006, 12:12 AM
1577 - 1640
Portrait of Susanna Fourment

Facsimile of an Original in Albertina, Vienna

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Feb-2006/39040-rubensketch.jpg

bjs0704
02-23-2006, 10:56 AM
Hi Luke,

I really appreciate your writing about Suzanna!

You are so right! The hat is a major “character” in this painting. It really does direct the eye in the composition and adds a playful, cute character to the painting. (A quick hint to those who are trying to do a portrait, a good hat is a helpful addition to an otherwise plain portrait.)

I’ve often smiled at the traditional name of this painting and I tend to just think of it as “The portrait of Suzanna Fourment”. Obviously, she is wearing a nice wool hat!

Thanks for pointing out the “ambiguities”. I like to consider why a painter would leave a detail in a unrealistic fashion. Sometimes, things are changed for the sake of the composition by plan or accident.

In the case of this hat, I’m wondering about possible alignments in the composition. The black areas of the painting do group well together and lead the eye through the painting in an oval fashion. I’m noticing that there is a “line” created by Suzanne’s right hand clutching her
shawl. Extend this line and it meets the hat. There’s another line created by her back. This line leads the eye back to the back of the hat.

Rubens is definite using the clouds to reinforce the circular movement throughout his painting. It is almost too forced for my taste, but I will remember that this painting was held up by the French Academy as exemplary example of a woman’s portrait. So, it would be good to wonder why.

She is wearing a dress with little fabric “roses” decorating the shoulders on one shoulder and “flounces” on the other. I will admit, I would be miserable, if I were wearing a shawl that had slipped into this condition. I would be about a minute away of dropping it on the ground somewhere. No wonder she’s a bit chilly!

But the drapery is a useful element here in leading the eye through the composition.

I’m currently working on a copy of Ruben’s “Boy with a Bird”. In researching the boy’s portrait for the MOM, I ran across a writer who said that “Boy with a Bird” was an oil sketch that was used and incorporated into a larger painting. It was painted by Rubens himself. I always had presumed that Rubens made Suzanne’s portrait as a present to the family, either to his wife, so that she had a picture of her sister or to Suzanne’s family. In either case, the family would want it to be painted by Rubens, himself. It wasn’t a paying commission so he did it a bit quickly.

Thanks so much for pointing out the added portion on the right side. I hadn’t noticed the line before, but it is definitely there! Painting panels were often made of more than one “board”. The pieces were “glued” together. The line running on her chest seems to be that sort of crack. The lines across the side and bottom look like the kind of thing where he took a small panel and enlarged it a bit.

We still have life drawing instructors who “fall to pieces” when someone chops off a leg or an arm! So, you are right to point out the old rules of composition. (I would check for xrays of this painting. NGL seems to have xrayed quite a few of their painting. The info could very well be out there. I always seem to find these sorts of things when I least expect it.) I’m not sure about how open the NGL is with their xrays or how art history scholars acess them. It would be interesting for anyone who is suffiently obsessed with a NGL painting.

Could the size of the outer perimeter of the painting have been determined to fit some set dimension that were standard for portraits? Many people say that these followed the golden section. Anyway, it’s a question that I have.


While I like the crop and I agree with you that the balance is very nice. I can see the “breathing space” and what is now called “negitive space” may be better in the current portrait.

Thanks for putting up with my morning rambles. I’m really enjoying this article! You’ve been wonderfully thorough in your analysis!

Barb Solomon:cat:

bjs0704
02-23-2006, 11:12 AM
When I was researching Rubens for the MOM, I found that "The Dictionary of art", edited by Jane Turner, discussed extensively Rubens' use of assistants in his studio.

Both "The Dictionary of art" and it's online "cousin", Groveart Encyclopedia of Art are excellent sources for those who are researching art history. They usually cover the life of the artist, the major paintings, and the technical aspect of the artist (in a general way).

Rubens created the initial designs for project. He got the commissions, and he created oil sketches that his apprentices worked from. He used his assistants to help him create the really large public paintings. The assistants often did the bulk of the work and the master would add the finishing touches to sharpen things up at the end. Now, there does seem to have been a different attitude toward the creation of artwork back then. There isn't the idea that a piece isn't a "real Rubens" because Rubens didn't paint it himself.

Barb Solomon:cat:

stlukesguild
02-24-2006, 01:03 AM
Saintluke;

I'm afraid I must completely disagree with your analysis of this stunning Rubens portrait...( another case of the dueling Saints!:D ) ...and especially with the hypothesis that the painting was by any other hand than Rubens' himself. As a Rubens fanatic I have seen my share of paintings by Rubens... as well as by his studio. Rubens did indeed utilize assistants to paint parts of some of his paintings. His prices were usually based upon the degree of involvement by himself... works painted solely "by my hand" being valued at a much higher level. Rubens used several very talented assistants who were good (even great) artists in their own right. The best of these would include Frans Snyders, Jan Breughel, Jacob Jordaens, and Anthony Van Dyck. In most instances, anyone with a good eye can easily recognize the contributions of one of Rubens' assistants. For example, the well-known "Three Graces" shows a clear contribution in the highly-detailed addition of the garland of flowers near the top of the painting:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Feb-2006/39499-3_Graces.JPG

One cannot imagine Rubens having spent (wasted) the time in rendering the flowers with such precision in such a secondary part of the painting. This is even more obvious when one looks at the loose suggestion of the background in other later works by the master:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Feb-2006/39499-rubens-judgement_of_paris.JPG

In the large painting at my local (Cleveland) museum, the participation of assistants is even greater:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Feb-2006/39499-1959.190.jpg

The beautifully painted dog is probably an addition by Snyders while the detailed rendering of the birds above were clearly a contribution by a detail-loving painter (possibly Jan Breughel). The two women to the right are clearly of a Rubens "type" but lack any of the animation and individualism of Rubens' own work.

Looking at "Le Chapeau de Paille", I cannot see any other hand but that of Rubens himself. I am clearly not the only one. This painting has been long acclaimed by other artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, who gushed that it looked "as if she fed on Roses", or Elizabeth Vigee LeBrun, who created her own inspired version of the "straw hat" as a self-portrait. Later Renoir would be inspired by the work.

Personally, I find the painting to be gorgeous... a real stunner. Susanna Lunden's (Fourment's) face is shadowed by the hat, yet the light caresses the side of her face and reflective light softly illuminates the rest of her face. Her skin almost glows, emerging from the miraculous effect of Rubens' combination of ala prima impastos and thin glazes of oil. Her eyes stare out at us demurely and animate her entire expression. Her lovely flesh is framed between the dramatic hat and the dress and if there is anything that draws the eye more than her face, it is clearly her ample bosom.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/24-Feb-2006/39499-Susanna_Fourment.JPG

I see none of the imagined "flaws" in this painting. Yes, the puffy white section of the sleeve on the left shoulder is not repeated on the right... but that's because the gray shawl is draped over this shoulder and wrapped around her arms. I don't find my eye disturbed by or drawn to the hat at the expense of the face and bosom because I find it balanced by the black of the dress below. I don't see the puffy gray clouds as a compositional element that makes perfect visual sense; it carries a sweeping "s curve"...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/24-Feb-2006/39499-S_Curvesmall.JPG

from the back of the hat, following her jaw line and swinging into her shawl and on through the sleeves. Why did the artist choose to hide the white of her sleeve on the right side? Personally, it seems a pure compositional decision. The lights (her face, neck, bosom, the white of the dress, and the left sleeve) forms an reversed "L" shape that moves the eye from the left to the right...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/24-Feb-2006/39499-Left_to_rightsmall.JPG

which is countered or balanced by the right to left movement of the "s curve" (which is itself re-enforced by the diagonal sweep of the hat. As for the "unfinished" look of areas... this is quite common in many of Rubens' later works... especially in those that held personal meaning to him or were of an intimate quality (portraits of family, etc...). One might compare this painting with the handling of the portrait of the artist's second wife and children:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/24-Feb-2006/39499-rubens_childrensmall.JPG

This handling owed much to the artist's esteem for the great painterly Italian master, Titain. Rubens' admiration for Titian's work was probably second to no other artist, and only increased with time (especially following his time spent studying and copying the great Prado collection of Titian's work).

There is no doubt that this painting was enlarged with additions to the top and bottom. The artist's initial conception seems to have been a usual triangular composition echoing the Mona Lisa and numerous other works. Susanna's hands would have indeed been in an awkward position if one were to remove the additions. However, closer examination suggests some possible reworking of the hands (perhaps in the initial underpainting they had been a bit higher up?). The artist may also have intended to place her hands on the bottom of the composition in a manner similar to this portrait of his first wife:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/24-Feb-2006/39499-rubens_isabella_brantsmall.JPG

Instead, the artist elected to open the composition up more, and he could be quite free with such compositional elements when working upon a painting of a more intimate/personal subject (the artist's sister-in-law) rather than upon an official commission.

Beyond the personal observations and the observations and admirations of artists throughout history, one might also look to the official documentation. As Charles Scribbner notes in his book, "Rubens", "...Rubens' authorship and the sitter's identity are not cast in doubt... in Rubens' estate, four portraits of Susanna were cataloged (including this painting), which gave rise to the fanciful nineteenth century legend that she had been his mistress." There are no suggestions by the National Gallery (nor any other museum or art historian) that I have come across which suggests that this painting was anything but completely "autograph". The very subject would seem to preclude the use of studio assistants. One cannot imagine the artist utilizing paid assistants (or beginning apprentices) for the painting of a family portrait that probably would not have involved much (if any) money changing hands.
With this much "evidence" (as well as my own eyes) weighing in in Rubens' favor, I would need far more than a hunch to begin to think differently of this work.

stlukesguild
02-24-2006, 02:21 PM
Allow me to add a few more points in my defence of the Rubens' attribution of this lovely painting. My first point would be to question Luke's scenario of the artist's studio. Rubens indeed utilized studio assistants and apprentices, however, there was a proscribed manner in which these were employed. Rubens' studio was NOT Hallmark cards or Mark Kostabi's studio where artists are employed to invent, compose, and render the art work from begining to end with the master merely offering a few pointers from time to time but signing the work and taking the credit. I have read several of Rubens' documents where he clearly points out the degree of his involvement from works that were merely rendered from his conceptions with the most minimal involvement of his own hand, to works completely in the artist's own hand. In either instance, the invention... design... composition is Rubens own. It is unimaginable that he might have entrusted a begining assistant to compose his own picture using expensive oils on a costly cradled panel which must have been purchased from the cabinet maker. Then to invest further into "salvaging" such a work from the mistakes of a student by a further trip to the cabinet maker to add more panel strips seems ludicrous.

The question is brought forth as to why this panel is so small (as opposed to much of the artist's oeuvre) suggesting that it was a student exercise. The facts are, however, that Rubens' frequently worked on a smaller scale... especially when doing oil sketches for larger proposed paintings as well as for more personal subjects such as landscapes and portraits of family and friends. How many friends or family members of the artist might have been able to house one of his large-scale paintings just in terms of space?

As for the issue of the additions to the panel, I will admit that rubens did not often make drastic changes in his initial conceptions. Many of his paintings show few if any signs of compositional changes. I have often been awed at the ease in which he often seems to have merely got it right the first time... every time... rather like Mozart. Still, such ccompositional rethinking is not unique to this painting. The great landscape, Het Steen, shows that it was expanded several times and underpainting reveals that the artist even painted out an entire figure (a second younger hunter in the foreground). It would seem that the artist was more apt the act freely with paintings which were more personal in nature and not earmarked for sale. How many of us would be likely to take a chance on destroying a work by trying something dramatically new if the work already had a committed buyer? It seems more than logical that Rubens used his oil sketches and the more personal paintings to attempt may of his ideas.

bjs0704
02-24-2006, 02:36 PM
David - Thanks for pointing out the similarities between the portrait of Rubens second wife and this sculpture,Portrait of a Woman,
1475-80 by Verrocchio which I have read was used as a model for Leonardo's "Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci". Very Interesting.

You make a good point about the size of the paintings. I've seen museums that can barely hold some of Rubens large public paintings. They are definitely too big to hang over the sofa! ;)

Barb Solomon:cat:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/24-Feb-2006/11410-lady.jpg

stlukesguild
02-24-2006, 07:34 PM
Now if we can only put all this art historical acumen to work in identifying the latest mystery masterpiece :p .

bjs0704
02-24-2006, 10:03 PM
I'll give it a try, David! ;)

As much as I love art history, I think that you stumped me last time!:thumbsup:

Barb Solomon:cat:

saintlukesguild
02-24-2006, 11:58 PM
Wow! The three replies thus far exceed all my expectations! My analysis - “hunch,” as Dave called it - was not an off the wall thing, but did contain some tongue in cheek. It seems to have provoked enough interest to inspire these long and thoughtful responses. Friendly forum debate of a high caliber and more than fitting, IMO.

Nickel was first on the Con side, not accepting much of anything I speculated. Barb acknowledged much of what I said, but was no where close to stepping over into my hunch camp. Dave presented a more elaborate argument against my suppositions. I truly appreciate all of them.

First things first. Your link to the drawing in Vienna, Nickel, set me on the path of conceding the painting most likely is Susanna. The eyes, looking the opposite direction, have a remarkable similarity to the eyes in the painting. Some more limited research on my part brought out that Susanna married a man named Lunden, and this painting was in the Lunden estate for some time. So I will admit the underpinnings of my question “Is this really Susanna,” are knocked away, and that question collapses. Even if NGL does use the cautious “probably.” Whether it is Susanna or not doesn’t matter all that much to my analysis of the painting itself, contrary to Nickel’s and David’s ideas that the identity of Susanna means a great deal.

Here I go. Nickel, your reaction to Rubens as a “kind man” and his fondness for his sister in law might contain too much romanticism. Yours too, David. And, David, your admissions of the studio assistants might be a bit understated. Let’s leave Rubens as artist for now and look at Rubens as business man.

Rubens wasn’t born rich. When he settled back in Antwerp, and eventually bought a castle with extensive acreage, some have described it a “fiefdom,” just for his summer pleasures, Rubens was rolling in money. At least he could meet a hefty mortgage payment on his summer palace. There is historical documentation that even in his sojourn in Italy and Spain, while copying all those Titian’s, Michelangelo, and oh so much else, Rubens the shrewd business man always had an eye open for any opportunity that would advance his political/social path to gaining commissions and making a buck. While abroad, Rubens’ reputation became so glamorous in Europe that the city fathers in Antwerp wanted him back, badly. The timing was good because his indenture to the Duke of Mantua in Italy, where his career really took off, was becoming frayed.

The Antwerp political machine made him a deal. That deal has a striking modern parallel in Metropolitan Nashville, and the coffers of the State of Tennessee luring the NFL Houston Oilers to Nashville. What a deal owner Bud Adams got! A new stadium, to be partly repaid over a very long term, deferred taxes, other incentives so rich they were obscene if not criminal. Bud Adams surely laughed all the way to the bank. I don’t remember all the clauses in the Rubens deal (I read this years ago), but I do remember he was exempted from certain taxes. I think Antwerp provided him with a grand house. One interesting clause I do remember: the Saint Luke’s Guild had a limit of the number of students an artist member could have, to control unfair competition. Rubens was exempted from that. He could have as many students as he wanted.

“Immediately after his return from Italy Rubens must have set about organizing an efficient studio; by May 1611 he could write that he was unable to take another pupil, having already turned down over a hundred applicants. Even allowing for exaggeration, this suggests a large and prosperous practice, and the sheer quantity of large paintings issuing from the studio certainly implies some degree of ‘factory’ procedure.” (*)

“Factory procedure” had fully acceptable precedence in Raphael. There is a huge book in our library titled The Complete Works of Raphael, written by a bevy of Italian scholars and printed in 1969. What was amazing in that book was the frank attribution of so many Raphael commissions to Giovanni Penni and Guilio Romano. Raphael was the designer. Penni-Romano did the painting, so very much of it, totally, that I began to wonder if Raphael had ever painted a picture in his life. This was no secret. Records show that Church Fathers made direct payment to Romano. Why not? They probably came to the church every day to watch him (not Raphael) do the painting. No one today would expect an architect to put on a nail apron and nail together wall studs of the house he designed.

This open practice was not so open in Rubens’ factory procedure. Documentation of his avowing a painting “by my hand” came about when his hand was forced. That is, collectors willing to pay his prices said up front the painting must be by you and not your factory hands. This leads to another interesting deal. Sir Dudley Carleton, British Ambassador to the Hague, has amassed a large collection of antique statuary. He was shifted from pillar to post, and was tired of packing the collection to ship with him. He cut a deal with Rubens to swap the sculpture for paintings. Rubens offered 11 paintings he valued at 6000 florins. Six of those paintings he swore were all by his hand. The remaining five he said were commenced by his best pupils but finished by himself. The deal was concluded, but later evaluations conclude that Carleton got skinned. Not all those paintings can be identified today. One, “A Lion Hunt,” can.

“We know from a slightly later letter exchange with Carleton that the paintings Rubens offered were not always what he cracked them up to be. A large “Lion Hunt” caused great dissatisfaction (‘scarce touched by his own hand’), especially as it was intended for the collection of the Prince of Wales, later Charles I. Lord Danvers, the Prince’s agent, was firm: ‘The Prince will not admit the picture into his gallery.”… “At the same time, Rubens was working on another “Lion Hunt” for presentation to the Marquis of Hamilton; it was, he claimed, ‘entirely by my own hand.’ There is good reason to suppose that the Hamilton “Lion Hunt” was the canvas that descended in the family… It reappeared at Sotheby’s in March 1975, where it was plain to see that is was of very poor quality. In spite of his own statement, it is unlikely that Rubens touched any part of it.” (*)

This story is not over. A few years later Rubens met the Duke of Buckingham He sold the Duke his entire collection of Roman sculpture and bric-a-brac, PLUS the sculpture he got from Dudley Carleton, for 100,000 florins. Better yet, he painted the Duke’s portrait “for the then huge sum of 500 pounds.” (*) If all this scholarship is sound, then I have a very good idea how Rubens was able to afford Het Steen and fief for a summer get away in his twilight years.

(*) Rubens, Keith Roberts, Phaidon, Oxford, 1977

Rubens as shrewd business man also ran a business in Antwerp. At that business he did what Raphael did. He designed everything completed in his name. For several years he designed tapestries, and of course he didn’t go to the mills and set before a loom and slap a shuttle back and forth. Unlike Raphael, Rubens had a hand in painting those designs, once his assistants did the preliminary work. His hand was a lot, or little, or in some cases none at all. I don’t think any of his pupils come close to the category of Guilio Romano. Though Anthony van Dyke might have. I have no doubt that Rubens followed the practice that went on for centuries - a Master signing and selling work that pupils did in his shop. This went on every where. That was much like a chemist in a modern day lab discovering something and filing a patent. The patent goes to the company that pays the chemist, and the chemist shares, handsomely. It’s all in the employment contract. It seems that pupil work was usually a copy of something the Master did. That’s how Romano, van Dyke et.al. became collaborators, skilled enough to paint in the Master’s name.

Can illumination of Rubens as shrewd business man (and sometimes a crooked one, it seems), and a follower of workshop customs, suggest that he did not paint Susanna? Certainly not. Does Joshua Reynolds’ gushing, and David’s and mine and universal admiration for the painting mean that Rubens had to have painted it? Certainly not.

I am stilled puzzled why panels were added to the right and bottom. Rubens preferred panels, but most of his work was so huge he had to use canvas. Nickel and David both suggest his original concept of Susanna expanded in his mind and the panel itself had to expand. But expanding a sketch on a panel gets into serious economics. Just imagine the manufacture of a panel. The wood had to be carefully selected, kiln dried, carefully sawed and glued and scraped and sanded etc. etc. This required expertise and serious labor by a cabinet maker. I can’t imagine they came cheap. That is why Rubens did thousands of “concept” drawings first - in chalk, ink, and oil on paper. Paper was relatively cheap. As David pointed out, “La Kermesse” expanded in concept and panels were added three or four times until the number of panels of the finished work were 14. The painting is 58 and 5/8 X 102 ¾ inches. That is a large panel and puts a lot of trust in glue joints and wood that has to naturally ‘breathe.” How many other panels did Rubens have to expand? I don’t know. He did two small oil sketches on panel for the Duke of Buckingham. For a contracted 500 pounds he could afford too. Otherwise, sketching out an idea on a panel, with no fixed design in mind, was a foolish and costly proposition.

Oh how I wish there was a comprehensive book on Rubens! But he is like Rembrandt. Both had a huge out put of work which is now scattered around the world. A comprehensive Rubens book could tell us if he expanded more than the two panels cited here, and how many more. It could tell us how many deliberate sketches he made on panels. Maybe a lot more than two for the Duke. Maybe no more. It’s hard to imagine why he would take the risk when paper was available to resolve all design problems before ordering a panel of specific dimensions from the cabinet maker.

I concede it is Susanna. I am not ready to dismiss the possibility that Rubens did not paint it. Given what we know of workshop practice (and assuming Rubens DID practice it), a pupil could have painted this from a sketch on paper Rubens did. He could have, and Rubens might not have been fully aware of what was going on until too late. He might have sold it to his brother in law or he might have presented it as a gift, with a spoken salutation in Latin. Who knows?

I am greatly enjoying this. Civil discourse with fellow WC members who are stuffed with erudition. I’m not really trying to persuade anybody. The questions did hit me, and I thought you might find them interesting. And btw, here is an interesting quip I found: “Combining brilliancy and subtlety, this is the only portrait of its time (c. 1630) to show a sun lit figure in the open air.” Is that true? I would never have thought of that. If the quote means open air without any vegetation or architecture (and surely it does), it also means Rubens thought of it here for the first time. A stroke of genius? Maybe so. Or could it be sheer accident resulting from a pupil not fully knowing what he was doing… heeheehee.

Until the Rubens Comprehensive is published, Nickel, we still need that X-ray. I fully understand you are very busy, and are not obligated to do my cyber research on demand. So even if you don’t find that X-ray before 6 a.m. Sunday morning, that is quite alright. :thumbsup:

By the way! What did you mean by that crack “Now that Elvis has left the building?” :mad:

Nehalenia
02-25-2006, 03:47 PM
Rubens wasn’t born rich.
More work for a Dutch historian, lol!

By the time Pieter Paul was born, his family wasn't rich anymore. The Dutch Revolt plunged most of the wealthiest magistrates and nobles into poverty, including the richest man in the country and his even richer wife.

While I agree that Rubens was largely responsible for his own succes, he was also in a position to become so succesfull. The time we are speaking of was very different from the time we know now when a person, even born poor, may become highly succesfull through hard work and smart business decisions.

At the end of 16th century that was very different. All of Europe was still feodal. A man's chances for success depended on his birth and connections. The Rubens family was allied with Lalaing, Count of Hoogstraten and knight of the Golden Fleece. Golden Fleece knights were "high nobilty".

Rubens' father was "schepen" (magistrate) of Antwerp and because Antwerp was by far the most powerful and wealthiest city in Europe, his position and rank was extremely high. Think of him as an equal to the major of a metropole like New York. Money meant nothing. The most powerful man in the world at that time, Philips II of Spain, was near to bankruptcy and had to borrow on the Antwerp money market to fund his troops. All that mattered were titles and birthrights.

Pieter Paul would never have been born if William, Prince of Orange, the highest noble in the Netherlands and married at the time to the immensely rich Anne of Saxony, Princess of Saxony and Orange, had not been so kindhearted. Anne of Saxony was insane and drank and partied a lot. At a time when Orange needs her most, she moves to Germany and has adulterous affair with Jan Rubens. She's found out by WIlliam's brother Louis and both Anne and Jan are locked up. Anne of Saxony denies everything. but Jan confessed. Don't worry, they were not put on the rack, William rebelled against his king because he hated the torture heretics were subjected to.

http://www.xs4all.nl/~kvenjb/madmonarchs/anna/anna_bio.htm (http://www.xs4all.nl/%7Ekvenjb/madmonarchs/anna/anna_bio.htm)

After a few months, Anne can no longer deny anything, because she's pregnant and it couldn't have been William, who was away from home fighting the Duke of Alba. She pleads to William to be executed together with Jan Rubens. She is now shamed as an adulteres and lost all her rights and privileges. There's no place she can go, death is the only way out. William does not comply. To understand why, an understanding of the Spanish rule is needed. Think of them as Nazi Germans. William hated death and violence and even risks his own honour with this decision.

Jan Rubens is exiled instead of executed, which would have been the usual fate of shaming the highest noble in the country. And in 1577, Pieter Paul is born.

I could write a lot more, but wil leave it for now by saying that Rubens had the opportunity. That doesn't diminish his fabulous accomplishment. He had the connections and made the most of it. Most people don't.

I'm very pleased with this thread (and all threads about Dutch/Flemish painters). I'm passionate about the background of this wonderful and yet insane and horrendous period in Dutch history that by all standards meant a turning point in European history. I hope I can contribute something to understand this confusing time a little better.

Margie

Nehalenia
02-25-2006, 04:28 PM
P.S. The translation of Anna of Saxony's comment in German:

He is a black traitor, but there is not a vein in my body that doesn't love him passionately.

Margie

stlukesguild
02-26-2006, 12:14 AM
Saintluke;

Trust me; I would not undestimate the contribution of assistants in Rubens' oeuvre. I would easily admit that the majority of the paintings sold from his studio were the product of multiple hands. Exceptions would seem to be the sketches and other works for personal use (portrait studies, etc...), paintings which held a personal connection for the artist (portraits of his wives, friends, studies from Titian, the painting of Het Steen, etc...), and a good deal of the later works. Had Ruben's settled in a bit and felt a lessening of need to crank out machine after machine? The works which are solely by the master's hand are indeed in the minority... but in most cases... they are among the best of his works. I agree that his time period did not have our degree of obsession (fetish?) with the "artist's touch". There was not that sacred aura of desiring a work in which only the inspired man touched with genius had dared place his brush. An apt comparison (as you note) might be architecture... or perhaps film-making... art forms that are the product of multiple makers... multiple hands. Still, I would dare to suggest that Ruben's hand is not something that is easily immitated. Had he been producing polished photo-realism... perhaps... but that confident, dancing, bravura brushwork? It is quite easy in most cases to recognize where the master's hand let off and a student took over. But then... there's Van Dyck. He may be the one exception. Having seen a great retrospective of his work I must admit that he indeed had the facility to mirror the master's hand in bringing his conceptions to light. A complete catlog of Ruben's work in tandem with something like the Rembrandt authentication process would undoubtedly be of the greatest worth. But then...controversy followed there as that group went to far as to suggest that the great "Polish Rider" may not have been by Rembrandt. The same question arises. If that painting was not by the "master's hand"... then who the hell was it by? Who else was that good... and why have we not come across more masterpieces by him?

saintlukesguild
02-26-2006, 12:37 PM
Eureka! Nickel! I found it!

At least I found where it is. Check this out. "The picture (Le Chapeau) was cleaned and restored by the National Gallery Conservation Department in 1946. An interesting technical report with detailed photographs and X-rays was published in Museum(UNESCO Publication, 1950.

So I went to UNESCO's "Museum" and do you think I got anywhere? Noooo. Nowhere. I even sent an email to the Paris Headquarters asking for help. I bet my last dollar the Paris computer will flag my email as spam and send it to that great byte bucket in the sky. Oh! Alas! The Sisyphean fortunes of scholarship!

Nickel
02-26-2006, 02:19 PM
Check this out, you will have to go almost to the bottom of this link to see what I want to show you.

Rubens, “Chapeau de Paille” (oil on panel, 31″ × 21 1/2″), cleaned in 1946 by Helmut Ruhemann.



http://aic.stanford.edu/jaic/articles/jaic23-02-001.html

Nehalenia
02-26-2006, 03:10 PM
Eureka! Nickel! I found it!

At least I found where it is. Check this out. "The picture (Le Chapeau) was cleaned and restored by the National Gallery Conservation Department in 1946. An interesting technical report with detailed photographs and X-rays was published in Museum(UNESCO Publication, 1950.

So I went to UNESCO's "Museum" and do you think I got anywhere? Noooo. Nowhere. I even sent an email to the Paris Headquarters asking for help. I bet my last dollar the Paris computer will flag my email as spam and send it to that great byte bucket in the sky. Oh! Alas! The Sisyphean fortunes of scholarship!

Do you have a volume number of Museum? Is it Museum International? I can look them up for you! Don't know if I can get the full text for you online, but finding out where they are is a start. The databse is huge and it would help TREMENDOUSLY if I can type in a volume number for the search.
Here are all (3511 :eek:) volumes.

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ulis/cgi-bin/ulis.pl?database=ged&req=2&by=3&sc1=1&look=new&sc2=1&lin=1&mode=e&text=Museum&text_p=inc&submit=%A0%A0Go%A0%A0

Margie

Nickel
02-26-2006, 03:14 PM
Margie, you are so cool :D

Here is an interesting quote

Typically for Rubens, the composition grew in scope as the work proceeded. The panel consists of no fewer than seventeen different pieces. It probably began as a small landscape with just three centre panels.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/work?workNumber=NG66

bjs0704
02-26-2006, 06:48 PM
The Jane Turner’s (ed.) “Dictionary of Art” discusses Rubens use of assistants. Rubens would do the initial sketches and create an oil sketch. He would also create detailed studies of the heads, hand and other importanted details in the composition.

His pupils would copy pieces done by Rubens, such as portraits of famous patrons, mythological, allegorical and devotional paintings that would be then sold to the public.

Since he usually did the designing, it seems more likely that he did the Susanna portrait.

By the way, “Boy with Bird” had portions added on later too!

Luke - That’s a really cool article to have found!

Margie - You are the best!

Barb Solomon:cat:

saintlukesguild
02-26-2006, 06:51 PM
No. No vol. no. was given. Just Museum (UNESCO, 1950). That's why I got totally lost.

CaffeinatedBrew
02-27-2006, 01:06 PM
UNESDOC database found 3 records Back to requesting form

Title | Help |



mul
Rousseau, Théodore; Huyghe, René; Schendel, Arthur van; Coremans, Paul; Pease, Murray
The Care of paintings
Le Traitement des peintures
Publ: 1951; 163 p., illus. Record

eng fre

Cleaning of pictures, pt. 2
Le Nettoyage des peintures, 2e ptie
Museum; III, 3
Publ: 1950; p. 189-251, illus. Record

eng fre

Cleaning of pictures, pt. 1
Le Nettoyage des peintures, 1ère ptie
Museum; III, 2
Publ: 1950; p. 109-176, illus. Record

Back to requesting form

records from record

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ulis/cgi-bin/ulis.pl?database=ged&mode=e&sc1=1&sc2=1&by=3&look=new&req=2&lin=1&mt=&mtA=&tx=Chapeau&tx_p=near&ti=&ti_p=inc&text=&text_p=phrase+words&ds=Restoration+of+paintings&ds_tie=and&ds_2=&au=&dafr=&dato=&dc=&ib=&submit=%A0%A0Go%A0%A0

saintlukesguild
02-27-2006, 03:37 PM
Brew, Brew, Brew!!!!! Exactly what I was looking for!!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

You computer whizzes amaze me. For anyone else with my ignorance, go to Cleaning of Pictures Part I. (It took me five minutes to figure out how to enlarge the microscopic print to read size.) Scroll the bar down about 20%. If you are in Rembrandt's "Woman Bathing," "Le Chapeau" is next. This document requires a lot of scrolling, up/down, right/left, and using the bar wiped out the entire article several times for me, before I used the arrow and patience.

Next comes an understandng of what we read. One thing is clear. This was begun on a fresh panel, and the X-rays here do not show any pentimenti. What we see is what was intended from the beginning. And that goes right back to the question of why the panels were added. Or why NGL says they were "added." The last X-ray shows the "repair" to the back of the panel. And a most intrigung photo it is. What do all those rectangles represent? Dove tail inserts have been used for centuries to join panels and keep them from ever slipping apart. But to think of square dove tails is stretching it. Anyway, if NGL says they were added that is good enough for me. For all this goes straight to my first quandry - could Rubens really have painted himself into a corner of sliced off arms and hands and had to add wood to paint himself out of that corner?

Many interesting things are in this article. Apparently, this painting began as a verdaccio on a white ground. I would dearly love to know how often Rubens did that. Merely looking at a photograph cannot tell us. Looking at Rubens' unfinished work and so much "sketchiness" in his finished paintings there is an appearence of earth tone monochrome going on. Or something close to it. (See Analyze this - Sweerts, where the something close to it came up.) I can't see the sketchiness over a verdaccio, but that means nothing. It could well be there.

For those who copy this for MOM, and desire to copy it the way whoever painted it, just the barest hint of glazing in the article show us what a daunting task it will be to glaze Susanna in the same way.

Thank you so very much Theresa!!!!! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

CaffeinatedBrew
02-27-2006, 04:12 PM
I'm glad I could be of assistance. Let me know if there's anything else you'd like me to track down. I can be pretty decent at it :)

bjs0704
02-27-2006, 05:53 PM
Thanks for passing on the tip about how the underpainting was done, Luke! I really appreciate it!

Barb:cat:

saintlukesguild
02-27-2006, 07:44 PM
Well... my assumptions are all false. I went back to the link and found a part I missed entirely. Didn't scroll patiently enough it seems. Also the mixture of English and French made me hurry to find the English.

This report indicates no panels were added. They were all there to begin with. Some broke apart in 1930, and were repaired as the Museum report stated. Now I have to locate the source that said they were added. And I know damn well I DID READ THAT, somewhere, for that is what got my train rolling.

Am I embarassed? Not the slightest. I said at the outset X-rays could make me look the fool for all my surface judgements, and they did. Foolish or not, my arguments were well reasoned, albiet on no real facts. And I assure you this exact same thing happens all too frequently in hard print Art Books and internet links. Rembrandt stroking in paint with a palette knife. Nonsense. Rembrandt adding bees wax to bulk up impastos. No bees wax has been found yet. (Eat your bees wax, Ralph Mayer.) Moreger's black oil concoction is the "secret medium" that Rubens used. Ludicrous.

In fact, Barb, hasty and half blind reading of this article lead to another impeteous error. Verdaccio is simply wrong. One A arrow points to white ground showing through paint of the blue sky. It is technical and chemical analysis of paintings, such as this, that reveals just how extremely complicated and mysterious Old Master process and procedure really was.

So I was entirely wrong in my Analysis This assumptions. I admit that with cheerful aplomb. It was scientific investigation that proved me wrong, in this here and now context, and I did allow for that at the outset. :angel: It was still fun, for me at least.

Your humble servant, Saint Luke

(If it takes me a year, I will find those printed words saying "panels were added." Just you wait.

saintlukesguild
02-27-2006, 08:29 PM
Didn't take a year. Took less than five minutes. Go to NGL. Click on Artists. Click on Rubens. To the right of that is a list of all Rubens' paintings NGL has. Click on "Le Chapeau de paille." The brief reading of that reads in part.....

Rubens enlarged the painting as the work proceeded, adding a third strip of wood on the right and then enlarging the picture at the base...

Now what? Right back to square one. Next I have to go back to Meusem (Unesco) and see what their formal jargon is really saying about those panels. You do understand that every thing printed in this article is based upon information furnished by NGL. Isn't it? Or is that a another hasty assumption of mine...

This really is fun. One minute I'm admitting I'm a well meaning fool, five minutes later I am doing a Lee Corso "not so fast my friend!" So what the hell is that article really saying about the panels? Whatever it is it put my neck in a noose for a while, and made me seriously wonder if my creeping senility had broke into a gallop. Come on everybody. Read that article and tell me what YOU think it is saying.

The fun of this thread does illuminate a profound truth. Everyone should be extremely cautious of any and all statements about art and art history. No matter where it comes from. (Excluding me, of course.) Read all you can on a particular subject and see what concensus of opinion pans out from different authors. Read the footnotes and the extensive relevant notes at the back of the book, and check out the bibliography.

Now I am going to sip some Bushmills for fortification, and go back to the Unesco a third time and what further confusions await.

bjs0704
02-27-2006, 09:24 PM
Luke - Well, at least you can see where the two opinions come from.

The added wood idea is intrigueing. I can see how over time a patch that wasn’t aparent could become aparent. I can understand how Rubens used a panel that had been added to. But it is interesting that you find such a variety of opinion and all from NGL!

It’s really been interesting to hear what you have learned.

You are so right about art history. A painting can be believed to be by one artist and then is attributed to another. And it is hard to find technical info on the paintings.

Barb Solomon:cat:

saintlukesguild
02-27-2006, 10:58 PM
A perfect example of how "scholarship" can turn into voodo!

Scientific analysis is a very big deal for me. It throws all hallucinations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries about Old Master Secrets into the garbage can and studies the painting only to try and find out what is really there. Based on that alone, the science reported in the Unesco article was a blinder. Their reporting of the panel X-rays was totally accurate in omission of any mention of added panels. Of course. How could an X-ray determine added panel? The X-ray simply reported on the totality, and the author had no reason to mention added panels at the time the picture was painted, even if he was aware of it. How utterly stupid of me not to recognize that at once. I took science at it's word, literally, and apologized for leading every one on a snipe hunt. But my apology was based on OMISSION of words. Ye Gads!

Once again, you have to be very cautious not to let a preconcieved idea over rule logic in any art research. On the other hand, my stupidity is inexhaustable and who can say what amusing path I will stroll down next.

bjs0704
02-28-2006, 09:38 AM
Since these panels were often made of separate boards which were "glued" together to form a panel, it isn't unusual to find mention of where these board separate in restoration literature.

In grad school, I was a student aide in the university's art museum. One of the neat things about the job was being able to see the back of the paintings, which allowed me to see something of how they were constructed.

I'm sure, Luke, that you will eventually run across a couple of references that will explain the situation more definitely.

My guess is that for some reason, Rubins chose to make the panel wider right before starting the painting. But still, one wonders exactly why. Your mention of "chopping off" the hands is a strong possibility.

Barb Solomon:cat:

rosebard
03-12-2006, 12:18 PM
Gosh what an outstanding job you all did here. Well done. Thanks you all! :)

Franzo
03-12-2006, 05:19 PM
im not quite Rubens but cooincidently i recenty drew my own version of this Rubens piece but as if she were carved out of wood. It may not be the appropiate place for this post but I thought it was a funny coincidence
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Mar-2006/73094-wood_rev_2_10_06.jpg

bjs0704
03-13-2006, 12:13 AM
You've definitely got the effect of wood! :)

I like the way that you did the folds in her dress. (Have you ever seen the work of the Italian Renaissance sculptor, Donatello? Many of his best sculptures are in wood! Somehow, your piece reminds me of his work.)

Barb Solomon

Nickel
03-13-2006, 10:12 PM
im not quite Rubens but cooincidently i recenty drew my own version of this Rubens piece but as if she were carved out of wood. It may not be the appropiate place for this post but I thought it was a funny coincidence
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Mar-2006/73094-wood_rev_2_10_06.jpg

I have to say, Franzo, I wasn't expecting your drawing, but she does have a certain charm. :thumbsup:

stlukesguild
03-14-2006, 12:11 AM
Barb;

No... I'm not reminded too much of Donatello. More like Albrecht Durer's Erasmus...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/14-Mar-2006/39499-Erasmussmall.JPG

...meets Tilman Riemenschnieder...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/14-Mar-2006/39499-2wurzburgsmall.JPG

on drugs... :lol:

I LOVE it! :heart: :thumbsup:

bjs0704
03-14-2006, 12:26 AM
Well, Durer is always good! :angel:

Barb Solomon:cat:

Franzo
03-15-2006, 02:06 AM
This piece was alot of fun to draw. Since this rendition i added a BG to it so it appears as if she is at a Tiki Bar.

jdadson
04-13-2006, 10:29 PM
I haven't read all the way thorough this thread, but I might comment that this would not have been the only time that Rubens made the beginner's mistake of not getting enough space around a subject. Several of his portraits, including a famous self-portrait, are too "telefocal." Check this one out:

http://www.artrenewal.org/asp/database/image.asp?id=12629