Monday, 23 September 2019

Renaissance Paintings in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

The last time I was in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh the Renaissance rooms were closed for repainting so, when I was in Edinburgh last week, I made a point of visiting those rooms and I'm glad that I did. It's not a big collection, just four medium sized rooms covering over 200 years of art - it doesn't make for a significant collection but the Gallery has some very nice pieces indeed. I've picked out a few of those pieces here to demonstrate how interesting they are. The Gallery is undergoing some major works at the moment but don't let the building site outside put you off going, it's definitely worth a visit.

One of the first and earliest works is a gorgeous triptych by Bernardo Daddi, a small, portable altarpiece of a crucifixion with other scenes from 1338. It's really interesting because of the scenes painted on the 'wings' of the triptych. There's the crucifixion of Saint Peter above a nativity scene with the shepherds on one wing and the generosity of Saint Nicholas giving gold to the virgins above the Virgin and Child scene on the other 'wing. That's an odd combination of images. What's that all about?

I suspect it's down to the donor who paid for the work specifying which scenes they wanted on his or her own personal altarpiece. I wish the Gallery had displayed this in its own glass case so we could see what was on the front of the two wings and see what it looks like when closed. Still, it's a fascinating and beautiful object, very calming in its simplicity.

Another work on the wall beside the Daddi is attributed to Lorenzo Monaco and Workshop but it bears little resemblance to other paintings I've seen by him so I assume the attribution is really to his workshop. Fra Angelico worked in his workshop at the time of this painting and this certainly bears no resemblance to anything completed by the Fra. A much lesser pupil must have been involved in painting this work. I'm afraid the absence of folds in the Virgin's cloak rather did it for me - where are the intricate folds seen in virtually every other painting of this scene? Maybe a good cleaning of the painting will unearth them but I doubt it really.

Beside this is a Botticelli Virgin and Child but it's not terribly remarkable (although I liked the tabernacle frame) so I'll move on to the 'Master of the Embroidered Foliage'.

It always makes me a bit sad when I see attributions of paintings by the subject matter or a particular skill, like the 'Master of the Embroidered Foliage' - there was a real person behind the skill we see in this painting but we don't know what his/her name was. Maybe one day an art historian will find a reference in an obscure diary or receipt from the time and link it to this painting and we'll know the name of the master.

It's a really lovely painting and you need to inspect it up close to understand the alias of the painter - the detail is incredible. The brush strokes do look like embroidery, but why? Every leaf is painted individually and, around the Virgin's cloak trailing in the grass, you can see so many different types of leaf. It's a beautiful piece. Let's hope a PhD student does their thesis on this painting at some point in the future and identifies the artist.

The collection has a few Raphael's, mainly attributed to his workshop and a lovely small Filipino Lippi (that needs a clean) but the next big works are by Titian.

The highlight for me was 'Diana and Actaeon' from 1556-59 by Titian. Actaeon the hunter stumbles across a curtain in the woods and, pulling it aside, he spies the goddess Diana at her bath. In revenge for the intrusion Diana turns Actaeon into a stag and he's torn to pieces by his hunting dogs. So the message is, if you find a random curtain in the woods don't pull it open since you don't know who or what might be on the other side.

I wasn't expecting to see this painting in the Scottish National Gallery but it's jointly owned with the National Gallery in London so I assume it spends some time in Scotland and then moves to London before returning to Edinburgh. It's a large painting and very dramatic but I can't help but feel a bit sorry for silly Actaeon, he really ought to have known better.

Another Titian in the collection is 'Venus Rising From the Sea' from 1520-25. Venus was born in the sea and this painting depicts the moment when she strides ashore for the first time, wringing water out of her hair. The painting is on a much more human scale rather than the other large paintings in this room. The face of Venus is the cover photo in the Gallery guide.

There are, of course, many more paintings in the Renaissance rooms covering a lot of territory but these were some of the ones that stood out to me. The rest of the gallery is full of paintings up to the modern period. Many of the paintings have a Scottish theme, glorying in battles and hunt scenes showing off the highlands to good effect. It's well worth a visit if you're in Edinburgh with an hour to spare.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Favourite Paintings: 'Church at Auvers' by Vincent Van Gogh

One of my favourite paintings is 'Church at Auvers' by Vincent van Gogh. It's one of his biggies and was even the subject of a 'Dr Who' episode when aliens invaded the Earth and hid in the church. But that's not why it's a favourite.

As part of my art A-level at school in 1978 I had to do a copy of a master's painting for my portfolio and I chose this painting to copy. I'm not sure why I chose this particular painting, possibly because of the blue sky? I lost my copy of the painting many years ago but a print of it is on the wall in my living room as a treasured memory. The painting hangs in the Musee D'Orsay in Paris and I well remember my first viewing of it in 2003 and the tears flowed. For the painting or for my lost youth? I don't know, but probably both. Every time I've been to Paris since then includes a trip to D'Orsay and I seek out this painting. One day I might have to go to Auvers in person.

I don't really remember what else I had to do for the portfolio other than we had to do a life drawing and an original composition on a theme. I remember drawing my friend Helen who agree to pose for us in the classroom. She was long and thin and wore trousers and a jumpa for the session. My original composition was on the theme of 'gardens' and I remember painting barbed wire as thorns and taking almost an entire lesson trying to mix the right colours for barbed wire. I think I had flowers on top of the barbed wire (like roses) to add colour but I'll never know for certain. It's strange what sticks in your mind.

Anyway, here's 'Church at Auvers' by Van Gogh for your enjoyment.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Velazquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer - Parallel Visions at the Prado, Madrid

A very busy blockbuster of an exhibition at the Prado in Madrid at the moment is 'Velazquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer - Parallel Visions'. From the big names in the title you'd be forgiven for thinking that all the paintings would be by those big three of the 17th Century but they're not. The exhibition also includes many paintings by other artists including Frans Hals, Nicholas Maes, Murillo and Zurbaran to name just four. The exhibition attempts to show how the three big names (and others) had a shared vision of how to develop art and the direction painting should go in and it finds paintings that help to justify this vision.

My heart sank a little when I first walked into the exhibition to be faced with a long wall full of paintings of mainly bearded men and some women dressed in black with white ruffs. Who on earth came up with such a boring fashion choice? This was summed up by one of the first paintings, 'Anatomy Lesson of Dr Sebastiaen Eghertsz' by Aert Pietersz. I'm sure these paintings must have their merits but they're not for me thank you.

Further on there was an interesting painting called 'Democratus' by Hendrick ter Brugghen which is basically a right arm and a bald head. I wonder what made him choose that pose?

The beauty is in the detail. Just look at the folds of loose skin at the wrist, the wrinkled skin of the fingers and the much smoother skin of the arm stretched over slight muscles. The right shoulder is excellent, hinting at the complex musculature underneath the skin, the contours and slight shadows. That is a good arm in anyone's book.

Democritus is also clearly discussing something with someone out of the picture, with his left hand gesturing while he lounges against a globe. The darker, exposed skin of his forehead is furrowed and his bearded mouth is open, mid word. It's an impressive painting.

One of the biggies of the exhibition is 'The Geographer' by Vermeer from 1669.

We see a geographer leaning over a map with his tools,with a globe behind him and other paraphernalia. His face is slightly blurred, suggesting movement and excitement perhaps? Has he just realised or discovered something?

There are the inevitable Dutch still lives and flower paintings and this part of the exhibition was particularly crowded, being in a sort of cul de sac in the gallery space. I gave the paintings the once over but the only one that made me look twice was this strange painting by Zurbaran, 'Still Life with Vessels' from 1650. I think the thing that caught my attention was the vase on the far right and it's textured surface - this photo doesn't really give you much of a feeling for what it was really like.

Rembrandt is represented by the inevitable self-portrait as a middle aged man but the painting I've chosen to include here is his painting of his wife, 'A Woman Bathing In A Stream' from 1654 on loan from the National Gallery in London.  There's something about this painting that grabs the attention. A woman in her shift, cut low and pulled up around her thighs so there's no particular nakedness compared to many other paintings of women but this seems particularly personal and intimate.

I wonder if Rembrandt made his wife stand like that in a stream, or maybe in a bath tub in his studio, to get it just right. In an age of puritans did she feel uncomfortable exposing her thighs like that or was she used to her husband's ways by then?

Not far from it is a long, thin painting by Velazquez, roughly life sized, of 'Mars'. Just look at that healthy skin tone, the body and the blue of the loin cloth. The thing that really intrigued me was the face, covered in shadow from the martial helmet, and, in particular, the impressive moustache.  In a body free from hair where does this tache come from? It's really impressive and long. I wonder if the model had a tache like this or whether he was chosen since his face could take it being added?

It's not the most muscular or masculine of bodies but the physicality of it is quite impressive, particularly since he's not actually doing anything other sitting for his portrait to be painted. The god of war having a rest but keeping his helmet on. There must be a story behind this painting but I don't know what it is.

One of the final paintings in the exhibition is 'A Civil Guardsman holding a Berkemeier (the Merry Drinker)' by Frans Hals from 1628-30. Let's face it, this guardsman has been doing more than simply holding a glass, he's been drinking from it and probably isn't much good as a guardsman at the moment. Judging from his ruddy complexion he's already had a few and fully intends to have a few more. I hope he's finished his shift on guard by the time he indulges. He's clearly in a good mood, raising his glass to us, the viewer, several centuries after he left this world. I was quite pleased that this was the last painting I took notice of in the exhibition, a drinking partner offering me a last glass before I went home. Thanks mate, I don't mind if I do!

This isn't my favourite period in art by any means but I'm pleased I saw this exhibition. It shows that there's always something to enjoy and engage with if you actually take the trouble to look. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

'Pain & Glory' - Pedro Almodovar

I don't see many films these days since there's rarely anything that grabs my attention, but a new Almodovar film is the exception. His films are funny, sad, worrying, colourful and always worth watching. His latest film stars an old collaborator in Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz as well as a cast of old memories, old boyfriends, childhood recollections and the sunlight of Spain. And a watercolour painting of a boy sitting reading.

It's the tale of the film writer and director Salvador who is crippled with pain and self-doubt who has withdrawn from the film world and rarely does anything these days. When his first big hit is re-mastered and is to be shown again he meets the former star of the star who introduces him to heroin to help with his pain. That leads to Salvador giving him permission to use the script of a story he's written about a former boyfriend in the '80s who was a heroin addict for a dramatic performance. By coincidence, the former boyfriend is visiting Madrid from South America and sees the show and gets back in touch with Salvador after 30-odd years of silence. As a result Salvador sees his doctors again to get himself sorted out and during this he is invited to a gallery opening that uses the painting of a boy reading a book on the invitation. That stirs deep memories.

It's a wonderfully constructed film, flashing back and forth through Salvador's memories. Penelope Cruz plays his impossibly beautiful mother in the flashbacks. One of my favourite scenes was when she chased after the young Salvador as a boy and the way she was running was almost exactly like they teach you not to run in Hollywood, ungainly and almost lumpen, a worried mother chasing after her upset child with no other cares. I was also very impressed by Antonio Banderas and how he played pain, not with exaggerated movements but with very careful movements when he sat or got into or out of a car, such delicate and precise movements that brought the pain to life.

The film is also a visual beauty, with rich colours and light and the colour red seemed to feature heavily, particularly in Salvador's fantastic apartment. I could happily live there. It's a great ensemble piece and an astonishing feat of storytelling. The last 30 seconds of the film, O yes, those seconds make everything clear... I won't tell you what they make clear, you'l need to see the film for yourself.

'Emociones' Flamenco at Teatro Alfil, Madrid

Have you ever seen a live flamenco show in front of you, guitar and singing, feet stamping and the dancers pulling dramatic poses and tapping their feet one thousand times a second? No, I hadn't until last week and now I want to see more! I went to see a show called 'Emociones' at the Flamenco Theatre, Teatro Alfil in Madrid, a staged flamenco show in a small theatre. There were five artistes and all had their own solos, one guitarist, two singers and two dancers. They all joined in the floor stomping though, and the occasional impromptu 'ole'!

I had no real idea what to expect from the evening. I've only ever seen snatches of flamenco dancing on TV shows or in films, never a full dance or a full show. It started with the two singers singing unaccompanied and then the guitar joined them before the two dancers came out to join in the fun. I've got no idea what the songs were about but they sounded dramatic and would've been about love and loss - what else could they be about? Then the dancing started, the lad in a suit and the woman in a red frock with a great train she had to keep kicking expertly out of the way of both their feet.

The evening continued with a dance then a song, then a guitar solo and more dances and songs, with some costume changes in between. How on earth can you tap your feet so fast that they're a blur? Plenty of practice! The lad had a long, exuberant dance, full of drama and passion and then the girl did her solo and she was just as dramatic and even more passionate since she gets the best arm and hand gestures, with her arms above her head, partially vulnerable and part ready to fight for her love.

As the show built and built the tension and excitement increased right across the audience - including me - so when the lights went out at the end loads of people jumped to their feet to give a rousing appreciative applause. It was fantastic. It was thrilling! Passion was dripping off that stage and I could see the sweat on their faces and clothes, that was a full-on performance. I went to the middle performance out of three that night and I have no idea where the energy comes from. They left me wanting more.

Sadler's Wells stages a festival of flamenco each summer and next year I'll be there. This is life-affirming stuff, people, and we all need that. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

'Olga Picasso' by Picasso at the CaixaForum, Madrid

The current exhibition at the CaixaForum in Madrid is focused on Olga Picasso, wife of Picasso, and it is full of his drawings and many are of her. There are some paintings as well as the many drawings and it's noticeable that paintings of her stop as the marriage deteriorated and he found a new muse and lover.

Olga was Russian and danced with Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, which is how Picasso met her since designed the costumes and set for one of the ballets. They met in 1917 and married in 1918. Her family in Russia fought against the revolutionaries and she lost touch with them for a while. She also injured herself and couldn't dance, which took away meaning to her life for her as she settled into becoming Mrs Picasso.

The first few rooms of the exhibition are filled with line drawings of Olga doing various activities, reading, sitting, playing the piano, often with graphite on paper, sometimes very large sheets of paper. Picasso clearly loved her judging from these drawing, both muse and lover. They also show what an excellent draftsman Picasso was, capturing a likeness with a few strokes of a graphite stick, often simple line drawings with no shading or emphasis. I wonder what Olga thought about being drawn again and again? Did you enjoy it, enjoy the attention? See it as the price of being the wife of an artist who was becoming increasingly famous and rich? Or was it something to be endured?

Then the inevitable happened and they had a child, a son they called Paulo. The drawings and paintings change to focus on motherhood with lots of drawings of Olga with Paolo, mother and son, Virgin and Child, an old, old subject. I wonder how many of these paintings and drawings the mother and baby actually posed for and how many were made up compositions by Picasso?

There are also drawings about woman as a creator, as being fecund and producing the next generation. I particularly liked a large drawing called 'The Source' with Olga lounging against a rock with an urn in her lap which is emptying it's contents onto the ground with one of her breast exposed. It's almost an image of the mother goddess, the fertility goddess waiting to give birth to the next race of humans.

We then see them as a family group as Paulo grows up and becomes a boy rather than a baby. There are drawings of the circuses they went to see, a family on the beach, portraits of Paulo and one with him dressed up in a harlequin outfit just like his dad. It's all very domestic and serene but, at the same time, the marriage was breaking down and Picasso had found another lover, another muse to inspire him, a 17 year old girl in Paris. The drawings and paintings take another turn and become darker, or at least those chosen to be in the exhibition become darker. 

Picasso creates his own mythology around him being a Minotaur, half-man and half-bull, a primal figure. There are many drawings of the Minotaur, mainly focused on lust and passion, occasionally violence. There was one drawing of the Minotaur having rough sex with a female centaur - I've never come across female centaurs before but I suppose there must have been some. There's also a drawing called 'Bacchic Scene with Minotaur' that looks less about Bacchus and more about group sex to me. What was going on in his imagination during this period? I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that.

I'm not sure about this exhibition. I found it rather unsettling, the move from sweet, romantic young love to the the darker world of the Minotaur. It's quite a journey and not what I expected when I went into the exhibition. Anyway, here's 'Sitting Minotaur with a Dagger' from 1933.


Monday, 9 September 2019

Four Northern Renaissance Paintings at the Prado, Madrid

The Museo del Prado in Madrid has a great collection of paintings from the Northern Renaissance, the countries around Holland, Belgium and Germany in the 1400s and 1500s. That's not too surprising in a way since Spain used to rule over some of those countries so it's only to be expected that some of the glorious art works found their way into Spanish collections. It has room after room on the ground floor full of these paintings, so very different to the Italian Renaissance paintings in rooms nearby. I've chosen four paintings that I particularly like, starting off with Jan Gossaert's 'Christ Blessing, the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist' from 1510-1520.

The thing that always grabs my attention is the delicacy of the figure of Christ in the middle, the serenity and stillness. Is he blessing the Virgin? If so, why? And why is John pointing at Christ? It's an odd composition, especially with the angel popping through the round opening above Christ's head. Maybe it was painted to go above the doorway into a private chapel of something like that, so you receive your blessing for going into the chapel? I really don't know, but it's not a painting I find I can just glance at and walk past, once glanced at I need to look properly.

An earlier painting is 'The Descent from the Cross' by Rogier van der Weyden, painted before 1443. We see Christ being held by Joseph of Arimathia and Nicodemus, Saint John aiding the fainting Virgin and, I think, Mary Magdalene being distraught on the far side of Christ (in Italian paintings of the time her hair would be loose). The figures are almost life-sized and that makes the painting even more dominating. The Virgin's figure reflects that of her son as he hangs limply before he reaches the ground. What would you think if you saw this hanging in a church surrounded by flickering candles reflecting the gold background and the rich colours, the sight of your lord who gave his life to save yours? It must have been a powerful image back then.  

Heironomous Bosch, known simply as El Bosco in Spain, is a great favourite at the Prado and has a room to himself that houses some of his greatest paintings, including 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'.

The painting is constantly surrounded by viewers several deep so you've got to be patient in order to see it properly and up close. It's a triptych of three scenes showing paradise, earth and hell, all with so much weirdness you can only wonder what sort of magic mushrooms El Bosco ate. It's odd since it's this painting that people crowd around leaving his other works easy to see up close - this is his 'big hit' that people know but you can learn a lot about him from the other paintings as well.

The Prado held a major exhibition of El Bosco's work three years ago that was sold out and opening hours had to be extended due to popular demand. I was lucky enough to get tickets and enjoyed the exhibition but it was too crowded to be able to view the works in comfort. I enjoyed seeing his paintings much more now that they're hanging together in a single room without the crowds.

A final painting I want to show you is this self-portrait by Albrecht Durer from 1498. Here he is, a young man, assured and confident, dressed richly like an aristocrat and with his life ahead of him. It shows his Italian influences with the three-quarter pose and the landscape through the window.

It's also a bit of a show-off painting using himself as the poster-boy for his workshop. If you look under the window there's some text inscribed on the wall. This says, "1498, I painted this after my image, I was twenty six, Albrecht Durer". So, the show off was only 26 when he painted this astonishing self-portrait. He had an interesting and largely rewarding life ahead of him and he left behind a great body of work. Surely we're due a Durer exhibition sometime soon?

I first came across this self-portrait when I was 16 at school (along with the van der Weyden 'Descent' painting) and was disappointed on my first visit to the Prado three years ago when it was out on loan so I didn't see it. I've seen it since though.

There are dozens of other Northern paintings on display in the ground floor galleries but these are the four I wanted to share. 

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Velazquez at the Prado, Madrid

The Prado has a great collection of paintings by Velazquez, with pride of place going to 'Las Meninas' which always has a crowd of people around it. It's in a room in the centre of the first floor surrounded by other royal portraits of Philip IV and his family. Velazquez is one of the greats of Spanish painting and there is a statue to him outside the Prado, sitting while holding his palette and brush, taking a break from whatever painting he was working on at the time. The statue is halfway down the side of the Prado and not as obvious as the statue to Goya which is near the entrance to the museum, so it's in a quieter position which I think is probably the right place for it. I prefer Velazquez to Goya anyway. I've chosen a mere four paintings by Velazquez for this blog - there are loads spread across various rooms but these are my favourites.

The first painting I came close to on my most recent visit to the Prado was 'The Crucified Christ', a life-sized painting, stark in its cruel beauty that almost makes you gasp when you first look at it. It's such a simple composition, a man nailed to a cross with a black background so there's nothing else to look at other than the tortured body of the man. His blood stains the wood he's nailed to. His body isn't idealised at all, the ordinary figure of a 33 year old man only identified by the light halo around his head and crown of thorns.

Reproductions don't capture the sheer power of this painting - you need to see it in the paint to see it's true glory, preferably without a gaggle of school kids chattering and ignoring the painting. It's a very powerful and emotional painting when you stand in front of it. It actually made me want to go and see 'Las Meninas' again, so I did.

'Las Meninas' is one of those iconic paintings that no-one seems to really understand and that's not a bad thing at all. At the centre of the painting is the infanta Margarita, daughter to Philip IV and Mariana of Austria, with a lady in waiting on either side of her, hence the title of the painting - Las Meninas means ladies in waiting. But it's further complicated by Velazquez including himself painting the young princess and there are her parents reflected in the mirror, watching the scene. Paintings by Rubens (Philip IV's favourite painter) line the walls. What is actually going on here? And why is half the painting given over to 'dead space', showing the tops of the walls and the unadorned ceiling? That's a lot of painted canvas not telling a story - or is it?

It's a fascinating painting that poses more questions than it answers. I hope that Margarita had a happy life.

As well as religious paintings and portraits, Velazquez did a lot of paintings about mythological subjects. One of my favourites is 'Vulcan's Forge' from 1630. Just look at the faces and bodies, that is realism.

Apollo appears in Vulcan's forge to tell Vulcan that his wife is being unfaithful and this is the reaction of the god and his assistants. The whole aim of this painting seems to be to show the male torso in different positions. What I admire is that Velazquez resisted the temptation to make the bodies overly muscular and masculine - he's gone for the 'ordinary man who works hard'. I think my favourite is the young man second from the right - look at his face, the realistic portrayal of a man who's just heard something shocking.

Another 'ordinary man' painting I like is Velazquez's 'Triumph of Bacchus' that sees the god carousing with ordinary mortals. The god's skin is luminescent but I'm always taken by the face of the bloke next to him looking out at the viewer with a drunken smile. That's a real face, a face with a name that is long lost, but it's that face that makes the painting memorable.

I don't know much about Velazquez but I've decided that I like many of his works that I've seen. I need to delve a little deeper and learn more about him.

Rubens at the Prado, Madrid

Rubens was Philip IV's favourite painter and that explains why the Prado has such a big collection of Rubens' paintings, around 90 of them. A goodly number are on display in the Prado but most are in storage. He was a prolific painter, with a workshop to match but I've chosen just three paintings to represent those in the Prado's collection. Firstly, a very large 'Adoration of the Magi', first painted in 1609.

It's a busy painting with a lot going on. The centre of the painting is given over to one of the Magi in his red robe but that wasn't the original intention. Rubens repainted the painting when he stayed at the Spanish court in 1628-29 and he added a broad strip of canvas along the top and down the right hand side (you can see the slight indents if you look at it carefully). He also included a self-portrait in the painting - the man with a beard on the horse at the top right corner is Rubens.

It's interesting that there are two bright highlights in the painting, one is on the small baby on the left and the other is on the servant's chest to the right. The two servants are clearly straining carrying the gifts of the Magi and these aren't gym-toned bodies, these are the bodies of working men. It's a bit of a stark contrast having them right at the front of the scene, almost naked while the Magi are wrapped in various layers of rich robes. It's quite an impressive painting and rewards careful viewing.

Rubens was a fan of Titian and, when he was in Spain in 1628-29 made some copies of Titians paintings, including his 'Adam and Eve'. The Prado hangs both paintings side by side for a closer inspection. Rubens' version is on the right here and you can see that he changed Adam's body to give him more musculature and a more contemporary head, he's also added a nice red parrot for some reason. Other than that, it's a remarkable copy, even down to the flowers and the snake baby in the tree.

Finally, here are 'The Three Graces', painted between 1630-35, and which was in his own personal collection until his death. Whether you like Rubens plump ladies or not, just look at that luminescent skin tone, almost glowing with vitality as the three ladies engage in some deep philosophical discussions. They were the daughters of Zeus and represented various feminine attributes, including grace, charm and beauty.

It's a large painting and that's a lot of flesh on display. I quite like that Rubens kept this painting for himself, possibly showing it to friends now and then, but not selling it like so many of his works. Clearly he worked to commissions and that's how he made his living but it's also nice that he painted for himself sometimes.

There you are, three paintings by Rubens, ably demonstrating the wealth of art that the Prado has within its walls, and these are just a fraction of the paintings by Rubens it has in its collection.