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See Rare Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens, Samson and Delilah, ca. 1609, oil on panel, Cincinnati Art Museum, Mr. and Mrs. Harry S. Leyman Endowment.

CINCINNATI, OH.- See intimate works by one of the world’s greatest painters when the Cincinnati Art Museum presents Drawn By the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens June 11 through Sept. 11, 2005. These engaging paintings—made in preparation for larger works such as altarpieces and ceiling paintings—offer a rare perspective on Rubens's skill, passion and ambition as a painter.

“Peter Paul Rubens was one of the most inventive artists working in Europe in the 17th century,” says Betsy Wieseman, curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Museum. “Because the oil sketches represented his initial inspiration for a work of art, they were among his most prized works, and he kept them under lock and key.”

Referred to as “the heart of Rubens” by Grace Glueck of The New York Times, these oil sketches reveal the speed and surety of the artist’s brush, his expressive use of color and his sensitive articulation of human form and emotion.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the Cincinnati Art Museum’s own Samson and Delilah, an oil sketch on panel from around 1609. In all, the exhibition presents 40 of these rare works from public and private collections in Europe and North America.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was the most renowned artist in northern Europe in his day. Based in Antwerp, he had a large and active studio from which he produced an astounding array of commissioned works for patrons throughout Europe. Eulogized at his death as the most learned artist who had ever lived, Rubens was later described by the 19th-century painter Eugène Delacroix, who himself owned a Rubens oil sketch, as the “Homer of painting.”

“Rubens made oil sketches for a variety of purposes,” explains Wieseman. “He used the medium of the oil sketch the way many of his predecessors and contemporaries used the medium of drawing, to work out the narrative and artistic conception of a finished work of art. Unlike the large, finished works that often involved studio collaborators, Rubens’s oil sketches are entirely by his own hand. Through them we find the most direct expression of his creativity and intellect.”

This exhibition is organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science, Greenwich, CT, and the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA. Drawn by the Brush at the Cincinnati Art Museum is presented by PNC Bank with additional support from Mrs. Richard Thayer. An anonymous donor has generously supported public programming for this exhibition. The national tour of Drawn by the Brush is funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

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