Saturday, June 24, 2017

Scenes of Drama from the 1630s

Abduction of Proserpine
ca. 1631
oil on panel
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Peter Paul Rubens
Feast of Venus
ca. 1632-35
oil on panel
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Giovanni Andrea Ansaldo
Herodias presented with the Head of the Baptist by Salome
ca. 1630
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

Bernardo Strozzi
Angel releasing St Peter from prison
ca. 1635
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Guido Reni
St James the Great
ca. 1636-38
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

"Mortal man, you have been a citizen of this great City; what does it matter to you whether for five or fifty years?  For what is according to its laws is equal for every man.  Why is it hard, then, if Nature who brought you in, and no despot nor unjust judge, sends you out of the City  as though the master of the show, who engaged an actor, were to dismiss him from the stage?  'But I have not spoken my five acts, only three.'  'What you say is true, but in life three acts are the whole play.'  For He determines the perfect whole, the cause yesterday of your composition, today of your dissolution; you are the cause of neither.  Leave the stage, therefore, and be reconciled, for He also who lets his servant depart is reconciled."

 from Book XII of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, translated by A.S.L. Farquharson (1944)

St Cecilia
ca. 1635
oil on canvas
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan

Cornelis van Poelenburgh
Musical Contest between Apollo and Marsyas
oil on panel
Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm

Anthonie Palamedes
A Merry Company
oil on panel
Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm

The tyrant Queen of soft desires,
With the resistless aid of sprightly wine,
And wanton ease, conspires
To make my heart its peace resign,
And readmit Love's long rejected fires.
For beauteous Glycera I burn,
The flames so long repelled, with double force return;
Matchless her face appears and shines more bright
Than polished marble, when reflecting light;
Her very coyness warms,
And with a look of graceful sullenness she charms;
Each look darts forth a thousand rays,
Whose lustre an unwary sight betrays;
My eyeballs swim, and I grow giddy while I gaze.
She comes! she comes! she rushes in my veins;
At once all Venus enters, and as large she reigns;
Cyprus no more with her abode is blest:
I am her palace and her throne my breast.

 from New Love, an Ode of Horace, translated by William Congreve in 1725

Jan van Bijlert
Pulling the Pretzel
ca. 1630-40
oil on canvas
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

Pieter Neefs the Elder
Church Interior with Elegant Figures strolling and attending Mass
oil on panel
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Jusepe de  Ribera
Penitent Magdalene
oil on canvas
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Alonso Cano
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Salvator Rosa
Witches' Sabbath
ca. 1635-54
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Francisco de Zurbarán
The Virgin as Sleeping Child
ca. 1630-35
oil on canvas
Fundación Banco Santander, Madrid