CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The Prado’s Rubens

The Prado's Rubens Exhibition: 3 November 2010 - 23 January 2011

From the museum website, 15 September

The galleries in the Museum that have housed Rubens’ works for the past ten years are now closed for remodeling. In conjunction with this closure, which is a consequence of the project “The Collection. The other extension”, the Prado will be devoting a temporary exhibition to its important holdings of the artist with the aim of emphasizing the significance, size and variety of this collection, which includes many of Rubens’ masterpieces. Among them are Saint George and the Dragon (ca.1607), Saint Paul (ca.1611), The Garden of Love (ca.1633), The Three Graces (ca.1635), Nymphs and Satyrs (ca.1635), Hercules and Cerberus (ca.1636), Saturn devouring his Son (1636-1638), Village Dance (1636-1640), Diana and her Nymphs surprised by Satyrs (1638-1640), and Diana and Calisto (1638-1640), to name just a few of the most important. The paintings on display will be shown in a new and original arrangement that will particularly emphasize the boundless and unique creative expressivity of an artist who was the favorite painter of Philip IV throughout his lifetime and one of the great geniuses of art of all times.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was the most revered painter in Europe in his day. The result of his astonishing creative powers, his art is characterised by its expressive rhetoric and powerful forms. Rubens aimed to convey an exalted vision of life that offers us an understanding of an ideal of human excellence. The artist was also employed as a diplomat in the service of the Spanish crown and played an important role in the dissemination of classical culture, in which he was profoundly well versed. Together, these facets offer an idea of the grandeur and significance of his figure. As a native of the Southern Low Countries (modern-day Belgium), Rubens enjoyed close links with the Spanish royal family that governed this region. Philip II’s daughter, the Infanta Clara Eugenia, employed him as a diplomatic adviser and also supported his artistic career. Rubens was the favourite painter of Philip IV, who commissioned dozens of canvases from him to decorate his Madrid palaces. The king’s preference for the artist is the principal reason why the Museo del Prado has the largest existing collections of Rubens’ works, numbering nearly 90.


In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museo del Prado will be presenting a new documentary on Rubens that has been made over the past few years in conjunction with the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica and Angular Producciones, directed by Miguel Ángel Trujillo. With the aim of setting Rubens’ unique creative powers within a much broader artistic context, the documentary includes commentaries by personalities from fields other than art, including Israel Galvan, dancer and winner of the Spanish National Prize for Dance in 2005, and the Spanish-based, British costume designer Yvonne Blake, recipient of an Oscar for her costume designs in 1971 and holder of four Goya awards. Both offer assessments of the figure of Rubens from their particular viewpoints with the intention of making the artist more accessible to the contemporary public.