CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Point of view #18: Otto van Veen's Strong Independent Women

24 March - 16 July 2017

Point of view #18: Otto van Veen’s Strong Independent Women

Exhibition: 24 March - 16 July 2017

Otto van Veen (1556-1629): Strong Independent Women: Amazons and Scythians

Point of View #18 showcases a painting Ā»rediscoveredĀ« in the depot, a work by Otto van Veen who was Rubensā€™ last and most important teacher. It has not been on display since the eighteenth century ā€“ possibly because of its highly unusual subject matter, a celebration of strong, independent and courageous women. For a long time art historians were mystified by this exceptional depiction of confident women clearly at ease with their nudity; however, the arms scattered around in the foreground allow us to identify them as amazons.

Although we now know both the name of the artist and the subject matter, this work painted in Antwerp around 1600 still poses a number of fascinating questions: was the panel formerly in the collection of Emperor Rudolf II? What is the meaning of the monogram on the panelā€™s reverse? And is it possible that the young Rubens was involved in its production? Van Veenā€™s Amazons probably dates from the time Rubensā€™ worked in van Veenā€™s studio, making the painting a vital starting point for our understanding of the younger masterā€™s early work. The composition will be included in our important upcoming Rubens exhibition where it will be shown together with early works by this exceptional Flemish painter, documenting the evolution of Rubensā€™ depiction of women.

Point of view

The Picture Gallery has been staging Points of View since 2012, and the series documents its role as a place of research, scholarship and education. Three times a year these small exhibitions showcase a selected work from the collection, inviting visitors to see it with new eyes and presenting the results of recent research.

A small catalogue is published in conjunction with the exhibition.