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 / Samson's head
 
These are the original comparisons displayed in the "Style and Handling" section of the Flash Movie.

 
  Click on a new detail to compare, and read commentary below:
Head of old woman Detail of head of old woman Detail of carpet Carpet Samson's head Philistine barber's head Old woman's hand Statue of Venus and Cupid
Statue of Venus and Cupid Statue of Cupid Statue of Cupid Samson's foot Samson's foot
 

Samson's head

Head of Christ
Samson's head from the Samson and Delilah Head of Christ from the Raising of the Cross (1610-11), Antwerp Cathedral, Antwerp

Look closely at these two heads – at right we see the bold, impetuous power of Rubens’ brush, as solidity of form combines with a virtuoso storm of pictorial design. By comparison, at left, we have once again the mere superficial blocking out of a head.

As for observation of nature, compare the lips, the structure of the forehead and bridge of the nose. Look at Samson’s ear, which has been hacked out by a curiously jagged black outline, that looks like nothing in Rubens other paintings.

Compare also the beards. Void of rhythm, the beard at left is a formless jumble of smudged browns and blacks, with abandoned half-drawn curls disappearing randomly into wet flesh paint. The beard at right is a masterly demonstration of how light falls across tangled hair, while at the same time embodying an organised rhythmic design.

Head of old woman Detail of head of old woman Detail of carpet Carpet Samson's head Philistine barber's head Old woman's hand Statue of Venus and Cupid
Statue of Venus and Cupid Statue of Cupid Statue of Cupid Samson's foot Samson's foot