FrontRunners: Peter Paul Unplugged

  • Karen Cakebread

He was a successful businessman and a diplomat who spoke six languages, but Peter Paul Rubens is best known, of course, for his prodigious output of Baroque art. Demand for the master’s work was so great that he kept up with it only by employing numerous assistants to translate his sketches to canvas or tapestry. Even during Rubens’ lifetime, these sketches were collectors’ items, prized for their originality and for the insights they provided into the artist’s creative process.

Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens is the first exhibition devoted to Rubens’ sketches ever to appear in North America. Among the exhibit’s 43 pieces are the artist’s preliminary depictions of The Three Graces, Samson and Delilah, and The Elevation of the Cross. The show runs through January 30 at the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science in Greenwich, Conn. (203.869.0376, www.brucemuseum.org), before it travels to the University of California, Berkeley, in the spring and then moves on to the Cincinnati Art Museum next summer.

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