Focusing on four Rubens paintings created between 1610 and 1620 - Prometheus Bound, The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, Juno and Argus, and The Finding of Erichthonius - this book re-examines the artist's approach to classical mythology. These theoretically-informed readings provide a fuller understanding of the dynamics of Rubens's copious visual language, and can serve as methodological templates for looking at, and reading of, many other of his complex inventions. Even by the standards of erudition commonly applied to Rubens's oeuvre as a whole, these four paintings were created during a period characterized by a particularly intense engagement on his part with questions of artistic originality and ideal style. Furthermore, the learned themes of these images clearly point to a rarefied audience that could appreciate the intertextual qualities of ancient myths. Like the artist himself, these ideal beholders cultivated a mode of viewing steeped in classical and renaissance theories of literary and rhetorical composition. Thus through these close readings, the author illuminates the manner in which the rhetorical and poetic conventions of the period, as well as the growing appreciation for the various allegorical layers of fables, lead to a better understanding of Rubens's pictorial archaeology of classical myths.
'Aneta Georgievska-Shine properly situates Rubens and his erudite mythological paintings of the teens within a late Renaissance culture, steeped in both classical literature, especially as a source of myths and imagery, and contemporary artistic theory.' Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania, USA
'…the argument grows richer and more absorbing as its layers build and their interconnections come to light … Using an essay approach to focus so intensely on four great, but underappreciated, masterpieces keeps the author's encompassing ideas about meta-narrative� and semantic polyvalence� well grounded and ultimately, I believe, incontrovertible.' David R. Smith, University of New Hampshire, USA
Contents: Preface; Introduction: Rubens and the historical sense of ancient myths; The revolt of the imagination and the reason of history in Prometheus Bound; The Daughters of Leucippus and the exemplarity of a rape; The Eyes of Argus and the eloquence of hieroglyphs; Erichthonius, or the serious joke of fables; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.