Residenzgalerie Salzburg  Flemish Baroque

DomQuartier Salzburg | Residenzgalerie Salzburg

Flemish Baroque
In the 17th century, the political and confessional situation divided the Netherlands into north and south. In contrast to Holland in the north, Flanders in the south remained Catholic and under Spanish rule. In the course of attempts at Counter-Reformation, there was a rapid increase in the demand for large-scale altar paintings and devotional images. The centres were Brussels and Antwerp. The principal representative of Flemish Baroque is Peter Paul Rubens. Inspired by travels in Italy and the works of the Italian Renaissance, he developed an individual style. Antwerp was distinguished by a close network of studios and artists, several masters often collaborating on a single work.

Dead game and birds are lying on the ground as though arranged for a still life. Beside them are two hunting-dogs – but they were not alone in killing the animals ...

... A nymph is just hanging the hunting-horns on a tree. In the background, other nymphs are bathing in the cool water. But the hunt was led by ...

... Diana, goddess of the hunt. She is resting in the wood with her attendants. Naked in readiness for a bath, she is covered only by a loose drapery which she pulls around herself.

The back view of her companion with the blue drape forms a counterpart to Diana. On the stone jewellery, powder puff, comb, mirror and scissors are decoratively arranged as a still life together with fine jewellery.

The fair complexion of the sensuously-formed bodies contrasts with the dense woodland. Delicately painted, the rendering of the goddess at her toilet serves as a pretext for the practice of nude painting.

Charles V turns a serious gaze towards the viewer. On a red ribbon around his neck hangs the Order of the Golden Fleece, of which he is the Grand Master. Impressive are his shining black armour ...

... and his magnificent cape studded with pearls and gems. He grips his sword with a firm hand. Beside him is a small genius holding a globe ...

... on which the emperor sets his sceptre, as though declaring: "The sun never sets upon my empire". The crown in the background is a further symbol of power.

Rubens shows Charles V as a magnificent military commander who was a formative influence on the powerful ruling Habsburg dynasty.

Elegantly-dressed gentlemen have gathered for a parlour game, with wine and exquisite food to complement the entertainment.

The group on the left is indulging in a different kind of play – as indicated by the oysters, with their aphrodisiac association, and by the rutting dog in the foreground.

A further indication is given by the two paintings in the background: fire and brimstone raining upon the iniquitous cities of Sodom und Gomorrah, and Zeus descending upon Danae as a golden shower.

Showing as it does the licentious conduct of this society, the painting belongs to the genre of the brothel scene, the bordeeltje.

Meisterwerke. Residenzgalerie Salzburg. 2015
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