Monday, June 13, 2016

More from the National Gallery and Red 141

As we've progressed through time on our CityLit introduction to the National Gallery I have been incubating a feeling that the Dutch/Flemish are where it's at so this week it was a little disappointing to find that I didn't fall in love with the works of Rubens, Hendrick and Joachim, that's not to say the visit was anything less than pleasurable and informative.
The Judgment of Paris  by Joachim Wtewael (1615)

(1) Our first painting was The Judgment of Paris (1615) by Wtewael Joachim, Wtewael came from Utrecht (now in Belgium) and was as well as an artist a businessman and councillor.

Looking at the painting as a group the consensus was that there was 'a lot going on' telling much of the story of how Paris made his choice of the three beauties (wrongly) leading to the Trojan Wars.

Stylistic tricks that are still used today include the use of less saturated colours in the background reflects that this area of the works  is something that has happened previous to the foreground scene.

The work uses many representational tools too for example Goats and virility.
A Winter Scene with skaters near a castle

(2) Adjacent to the Paris painting was another work from a European painter the Dutch artist Hendrick Avercamp the work was called a Winter Scene with skaters near a castle and was a contemporary work reflecting the wealthy Dutch at leisure, some of them playing an early form of golf (known as Kolf).

For me this was a work that I could relate to far more than the judgement of Paris and it reminded me of Lowry in its style of observing  a mass activity somewhat anonymously - oddly there's a link via the often overlooked  Helen Bradley who was encouraged  by Lowry.

[Incidentally Leslie explained that Avercamp was a mute known as "de Stomme van Kampen" (the mute of Kampen) - and the Dutch term  is where the Keep Schtum phrases comes from.]


(3) Our final artist under the spotlight was the much celebrated and successful Peter Paul Rubens - he too was not just a painter but was also something of a diplomat and travelled widely in this role.
A Rubens' version of The Judgement of Paris 

Looking around the gallery it was clear that Rubens was a prolific painter, this profligacy was  achieved  by the use of his workshop which used many apprentices including Van Dyck.

It was great to be able to see another interpretation of The Judgement of Paris  (1632 -ish) and compare it with the earlier work by Joachim - this work was far less 'busy' and it reflected the moment ahead of Paris making his choice.

the subject was one that Rubens visited many times here the model used for all three of the female figures is said to be his young wife (she was just 16 at the time of his marriage) - the painting has had many changes (many around the figure of  Paris ) made to it and it is not totally clear why and by whom the changes were made.
A Rubens Portrait

It's clear that Rubens style and skills were wide and not all his paintings are immediately identifiable to him (by me anyway)  .

We also looked at the Minerva protects Pax from Mars by Rubens which reflected the turmoil in Europe at the time of painting - this was a powerful anti war allegory using people he knew as models (the family of Sir Balthasar Gerbier) - you can see the family in a more traditional work here.



A bit of a 'tour de force'  - Minerva protects Pax from Mars



Red 141


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