Monday, September 24, 2012

Usage: Rubens' "Peace and War"


If I were under the gun and needed to analyze a usage of classical mythology in short order, I'd probably go with Peter Paul Rubens' 1629 masterpiece "Minerva Protects Pax from Mars" which is also known as "Peace and War".
Peter Paul Rubens painted Minerva into the background of the foreground's idyllic scene. Mars is no match for her.

What makes it a compelling piece:
  • Rubens is a principal painter of the Northern Baroque (so, there is much scholarship about him, his biography, and his craft);
  • The National Gallery's website offers starting points for research, as does Reid's listing of sources ... and an updated (25 sept) OGCMA slide now offers some bibliography;
  • The painting's iconography articulates clearly the important differences between Ares and Athena;
  • The painting has a contextual history that is easy to understand within Rubens' career and its own historical backdrop;
  • That little girl looking out of the painting invites me to step in and get involved. (Don't you agree?)
 Rubens has something to say. He likes saying things with mythological allusions. Athena shows up in many of his allegories. Scholarly sources can be brought to bear in a short research project on this fascinating painting.

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