after Rubens: the strange story of the Samson and Delilah

Choose a comparison set (more to be added during Nov) from the drop-down menu below, and click on the thumbnails to view comparisons and our commentary below.

Comparisons Tool / Delilah's breasts
A new set of comparisons between details in the Samson and Delilah and Rubens' Cimon and Pero, which has been cited as its painterly counterpart by the National Gallery.

  Click on a new detail to compare, and read commentary below:
Delilah's breasts Delilah's head Delilah's hand

Delilah's breasts

Pero's breasts
Delilah's breasts from the Samson and Delilah

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Pero's breasts from the Cimon and Pero (Roman Charity) (about 1612), The State Hermitage, St. Petersburg

[ Click image to enlarge ]

On the left, the volume of the nearer breast is confused, the light area failing to link properly with the misplaced shaded area, giving the breast an unnatural ridge-like feature. Compare with the assured volume in the breast at right where we find utterly convincing malleability and weight - achieved once more through Rubens' typically highly sensitive response to tone, colour and observation of nature.

Note also the emphatic structure of the nipple in the detail at right and compare this with the unreadable squashed chewing-gum form present on Delilah's breast. Just as problematic is the indecision apparent in the depiction of space between the two breasts, where the painter appears not to have a clear idea of what colours or strength of shadow to use, or even where to put them. Note also the faltering curve of the far breast with its flat, crushed-in, vertical front, the nipple failing to occupy its natural place at the culminating outermost point of the line.

Delilah's breasts Delilah's head Delilah's hand