after Rubens: the strange story of the Samson and Delilah
 
 

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Comparisons Tool / Statue of Venus and Cupid
 
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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
 

Middle section of status of Venus and Cupid

Middle section of status of Venus and Cupid from the Samson and Delilah

Before we consider this statue of Venus and Cupid alongside other works, it is worth considering it for a moment on its own.

Not only is the brushwork totally uncharacteristic of Rubens’ hand during this or any other period, but the work here is not even consistent with itself. The curved brushstrokes of the lower half have been abandoned in the female torso for a kind of rectilinear faceting more akin to a follower of Cezanne or Picasso in 1906. Such rectilinear hatcheting of the human form is incredible for Rubens, who never missed an opportunity to depict the voluptuous roundedness of the female body, be it flesh or stone.

How is this conceivable as the work a master-draughtsman, who adored and had drawn innumerable classical statues, and who had even written a treatise on the depiction of sculpture in paint, De Imitatione Statuarum? There, he prompted other painters to strive for a deeper understanding of the three-dimensional forms which they were translating into two-dimensional ones: “I am convinced that in order to achieve the highest perfection one needs a full understanding of the statues, indeed a complete absorption in them”

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