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Rubens Challenges the Old Masters at the Alte Pinakothek
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) after Tiziano Vecellio, named Tizian (c. 1485/90-1576), "The Worship of Venus", 1636/38, Canvas, 196 x 209,9 cm., Stockholm, Nationalmuseum © Erik Cornelius.
MUNICH.- The paintings by Peter Paul Rubens in the Alte Pinakothek – one of the largest and most important collections of his works anywhere – are undoubtedly one of the museum’s highlights. Over the next few months, these will be supplemented by an exhibition that focuses on a fascinating and yet unusual aspect of his pictorial oeuvre.

Few are aware of the fact that Rubens, who was one of the most productive and multifaceted Baroque painters, created a large number of copies of works by major artists. These are not mere reproductions in the modern sense but testify to an intense creative process. Rubens virtually entered into dialogue with the painting he was copying, taking on its pictorial language while attempting to reach a greater degree of perfection.

For the first time, this specific subject is being addressed in an exhibition in Munich which, simultaneously, underlines the significance of the museum’s own holdings of works by Rubens. While copying famous paintings already in existence, Rubens also developed his own style. His analysis of these exemplary works, however, can also be seen as a sort of artistic rivalry. By altering a few small details, he often reached new solutions which in turn lend his works a surprisingly modern aura. This is clearly demonstrated by a number of different paintings in the exhibition. Hanging Rubens’ reinterpretations alongside the originals forms an extraordinary highlight in the exhibition. It stimulates a fascinating dialogue and provides visitors with a unique visual experience. This is evident when comparing Titian’s "Adam and Eve" with Rubens’ copy (both in the Prado). The exhibition finishes on a particularly high note with large-format, mythological scenes, also based on Titian’s originals.

Masterpieces from the Prado in Madrid, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, are on temporary loan to the Alte Pinakothek and strike a uniquely harmonious chord with Munich’s own famous collection of paintings by the Flemish painter.

Curators: Reinhold Baumstark and Mirjam Neumeister.

Alte Pinakothek | Peter Paul Rubens | Reinhold Baumstark | Mirjam Neumeister |


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