Hermitage Rooms Archive

Peter Paul Rubens: A Touch of Brilliance

Oil Sketches and Related Works from The State Hermitage Museum and The Courtauld Institute Gallery


Painting: Peter Paul Rubens, The Apotheosis of James I, 1630-34
The Apotheosis of James I, 1630-34

Painting: Peter Paul Rubens, The Meeting at Lyons, 1622
The Meeting at Lyons, 1622

Painting: Peter Paul Rubens, Solomon Receiving the Queen of Sheba, 1620
Solomon Receiving the Queen of Sheba, 1620

Painting: Peter Paul Rubens, The Unification of the Kingdom,c.1632-33
The Unification of the Kingdom,

Painting: Peter Paul Rubens, The Descent from the Cross,1611-12
The Descent from the Cross,

20th September 2003 - 8th February 2004

Peter Paul Rubens: A Touch of Brilliance, is an important exhibition devoted to the oil sketches of Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). This will be the first project to result from the alliance between the Courtauld Institute of Art and The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, announced earlier this year.

The exhibition will bring the visitor closer to the creative moment and the development of the artist's pictorial ideas and illustrate the wide range of Ruben's preparatory work throughout his life from loose sketches through to more fully worked pieces. It will not only offer insights into the genesis of some of this major artist's most important compositions but also further the understanding of his innovative and original use of the oil sketch.

This exhibition draws on the two celebrated and complementary collections, those of the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. With the addition of loans from the National Gallery and Dulwich College Picture Gallery, London, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the exhibition will comprise some forty oil sketches supplemented by ten related drawings and a small number of finished paintings.

Peter Paul Rubens: A Touch of Brilliance will focus on a number of Rubens' projects where the Hermitage and Courtauld holdings are exceptionally rich including the ceiling of the Banqueting House at Whitehall and the now lost ceiling of the Jesuit church in Antwerp. By bringing together preparatory material from a small number of commissions, this exhibition aims to provide a concentrated account of the role of the oil sketch in Rubens' working process. Loosely painted grisailles, exploratory bozzetti, more finished modelli and drawings will provide an insight into the genesis of several of the artist’s most important compositions. It is particularly appropriate that sketches for the Whitehall ceiling have been brought together in the 400th anniversary year of the event celebrated in the ceiling's iconography: the Unification of the Crowns of Scotland and England.

The exhibition is generously supported by;
the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation
Mrs Charles Wrightsman
the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation
the Founding Members of the Walpole Circle

related events

press release, 24 July 2003

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