Rubens and the Eloquence of Drawing: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Rubens and the Eloquence of Drawing

1st Edition

By Catherine H. Lusheck


312 pages | 40 Color Illus. | 55 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367334086
pub: 2019-04-18
Hardback: 9781472477125
pub: 2017-08-07
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pub: 2017-08-07
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Rubens and the Eloquence of Drawing re-examines the early graphic practice of the preeminent northern Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640) in light of early modern traditions of eloquence, particularly as promoted in the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Flemish, Neostoic circles of philologist, Justus Lipsius (1547–1606). Focusing on the roles that rhetorical and pedagogical considerations played in the artist’s approach to disegno during and following his formative Roman period (1600–08), this volume highlights Rubens’s high ambitions for the intimate medium of drawing as a primary site for generating meaningful and original ideas for his larger artistic enterprise. As in the Lipsian realm of writing personal letters – the humanist activity then described as a cognate activity to the practice of drawing – a Senecan approach to eclecticism, a commitment to emulation, and an Aristotelian concern for joining form to content all played important roles.

Two chapter-long studies of individual drawings serve to demonstrate the relevance of these interdisciplinary rhetorical concerns to Rubens’s early practice of drawing. Focusing on Rubens’s Medea Fleeing with Her Dead Children (Los Angeles, Getty Museum), and Kneeling Man (Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen), these close-looking case studies demonstrate Rubens’s commitments to creating new models of eloquent drawing and to highlighting his own status as an inimitable maker. Demonstrating the force and quality of Rubens’s intellect in the medium then most associated with the closest ideas of the artist, such designs were arguably created as more robust pedagogical and preparatory models that could help strengthen art itself for a new and often troubled age.


"Lusheck’s study is well informed and will provide a welcome introduction for new students of Rubens’s philosophical background."

- Historians of Netherlandish Art Reviews

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Prologue: Rubens’s Early Drawings and the Problem of Eclecticism


Chapter 1 – Setting the Stage: Privileging Eloquent Disegno in Rubens's Early Drawings

Chapter 2 – Style and Eloquence in Rubens’s Milieu


Chapter 3 – The Getty Medea and Rubens’s Making of a Modern Senecan Grande Âme

Chapter 4 – Figuring Eloquence: The Kneeling Man and Rubens’s Construction of the Robust Male Nude


Index of Works


About the Author

Catherine Lusheck (PhD, UC Berkeley), is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of San Francisco. Her research interests include Rubens drawings, and early modern humanism, style, and visual rhetoric. Her publications include "Content in Form: Rubens's Kneeling Man and the Graphic Reformation of the Ideal, Robust Male Nude," Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (2000), and a forthcoming essay, "Leonardo’s Brambles and their Afterlife in Rubens’s Studies of Nature."

About the Series

Visual Culture in Early Modernity

A forum for the critical inquiry of the visual arts in the early modern world, Visual Culture in Early Modernity promotes new models of inquiry and new narratives of early modern art and its history. We welcome proposals for both monographs and essay collections that consider the cultural production and reception of images and objects. The range of topics covered in this series includes, but is not limited to, painting, sculpture and architecture as well as material objects, such as domestic furnishings, religious and/or ritual accessories, costume, scientific/medical apparata, erotica, ephemera and printed matter. We seek innovative investigations of western and non-western visual culture produced between 1400 and 1800.


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / General
ART / Techniques / Drawing
ART / History / General
ART / European
ART / History / Baroque & Rococo
ART / Individual Artists / General
ART / Individual Artists / Monographs
HISTORY / Europe / General