Rubens and His Legacy: Van Dyck to Cézanne, Main Galleries, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, until 10th April 2015
For anyone intending to visit this glorious exhibition the keyword is legacy.
Rubens was a highly accomplished artist whose works cover many themes – Poetry, Elegance, Power, Lust, Compassion and Violence and while this exhibition offers fine examples of the master’s hand on these subjects it concentrates on successive generations and schools of artists whose works were inspired and influenced by him. Thus you will encounter Turner and Constable, Watteau and Fragonard, Delacroix and Cézanne and many other artists along the way.
As the exhibitions curator, Dr Nico Van Hout, says, “It is no coincidence that Delacroix, Vigée-Lebrun, Reynolds and Renoir devoted fascinating discourses, journal entries and letters on the virtuosity and confidence of Rubens’ brushwork, as many artists were trained by seriously studying his altarpieces, allegories, portraits and landscapes. Each artist focused on different aspects of his oeuvre and the works in this exhibition show the great variety of this impact: they include exact copies, creative copies, pastiches and quotations to works that only echo Rubens’ style. Only the best artists were able to translate Rubens’ visual language into a personal idiom and we are delighted to bring together such a rich selection of works to showcase the ongoing strength of Rubens’ legacy throughout the past three centuries.”
One could suggest that perhaps a few more works by Rubens would have been better or wonder why some of the pictures were chosen as being influenced by him but in the end it does not really matter for the aim of showing how great the legacy of Rubens is addressed with verve and success.