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Rubens and His Legacy

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Jackie Wullschlager reviews Rubens and his Legacy: Van Dyck to Cézanne, Royal Academy, London, on view through April 10, 2015.

Wullschlager writes: "… politically incorrect, though wonderful, is the show’s second Rubens masterpiece: the rare 'Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt' from Rennes, which as a story of tumult and conflict between civilisation and nature nicely offsets the harmonies of 'The Garden of Love'. Organised around the diagonal thrust of a rearing white horse whose turbaned rider is being dragged down by a tiger, while another muscly warrior prises open the mouth of an attacking lion and a leopard lies stabbed on the ground, it is a terrific example of how Rubens converged a boisterous realism of flesh and fur — apogee of the Netherlandish materialist tradition — with the commanding choreography of figures and orchestration of a rich palette, derived from Titian and Caravaggio. It was this combination that introduced, on Rubens’ return to Antwerp in 1608 after eight years in Italy, a new extravagance, energy and grace that changed the course of northern European painting."

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