Among the three artists Rubens, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt there have been many magnificent works of art. There are many different similarities and differences within each Artists works, aesthetic qualities and symbolic significance, as well as the artists’ points of view for each work of art.
Rubens, (Peter Paul Rubens) “was a prolific seventeenth-century Flemish Baroque painter, and a proponent of an exuberant Baroque style that emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. He is well-known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.”
He began by visiting many famous artists and copying some of their works of art to develop a sort of sense of understanding for this type of art and how it is create. One of his paintings “Head of Medusa” can be seen by many as very grotesque, yet it is incredibly detailed and realistic. Medusa was known as a Gorgon in Greek mythology, and that was of evil. Many often described her as a winged type creature with head of snakes.
Though, she was mortal and Perseus killed Medusa by decapitating her. Medusas death is found in the epic, Argonautica. This painting is most likely depicting the defeat of evil, and intended to be very dramatic, catching the viewers’ attention immediately. (Rubens.org 2013)
Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio) “was an Italian artist active in Rome, Naples, Malta and Sicily between 1593 and 1610. He is commonly placed in the Baroque school, of which he is considered the first great representatives.” He was also one of the many artists that Rubens copied in his times of studying art. “The intense realism or naturalism, for which Caravaggio is now famous, is used in the majority of his paintings. He preferred to paint his subjects as the eye sees them, with all their natural flaws and defects instead of as idealized creations.
This allowed a full display of Caravaggio’s virtuosic talents. He was also widely known as the most famous painter in Rome. His painting of Medusa in a leather jousting shield is very similar in meaning to that of Rubens painting, though Caravaggio’s depicts that of the incident where the Goddess Athena placed in upon her shield because any who looked upon the head of Medusa would turn to stone. Both Caravaggio’s and Rubens painting are grotesque and dramatic, yet a beautiful display of their own imagery. (Caravaggio.org 2013)
A writer named Walter Wallace gives an incredible and justifying description of Rembrandt ( Rembrandt Van Rijn). He states “In life Rembrandt suffered far more misfortune than falls to the lot of an ordinary man, and he bore it with the utmost nobility….
The child of poor, ignorant Dutch peasants, Rembrandt was born with near-miraculous skill in art. As an uneducated young man, he established himself in Amsterdam, married a beautiful, wealthy, sympathetic girl named Saskia, and enjoyed a brief period of prosperity and fame. However, because men of genius are always misunderstood by the public, fate snatched him by the throat….
Rembrandt responded with a masterpiece, a fact unfortunately apparent only to him and his wife. Everyone else, from the burghers to the herring-peddlers, thought the painting was dreadful. Rembrandt’s patrons hooted in rage and derision, demanding changes that the artist, secure in the knowledge that posterity would vindicate him, stubbornly refused to make.”(Wallace 1968) Like Caravaggio and Ruben, his works could be just as realistic and gruesome, yet seem to take your breath away at the meaningful imagery that they all portrayed.
One of his paintings The Blinding of Samson, he depicts armored men holding down Samson, and taking a knife to his eyes, thus blinding him. This is of course representing the Blinding of Samson that is portrayed in the Holy Bible. This artist captures the viewers attention by the emotion of this moment. It was also very common to see stories of the Bible depicted in artists work during this time period due to The Roman Catholic Church’s stand point at that time.
The three artists Ruben, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt all created amazing works of art, with similar interests as well as display of their own imagery. All three works of art depict similarity that suggests they are from the same time period, such as the style, detail of dramatic facial expressions, and that each was of some sort of mythology or theory that they firmly believed on or felt an intense obligation to share.
Caravaggio, The Complete Works. (2013). Retrieved on September 28, 2013 from: http://www.caravaggio-foundation.org/Medusa,-painted-on-a-leather-jousting-shield,-c.1596-98.html
Peter Paul Rubens, The Complete Works. (2013). Retrieved on September 29, 2013 from: http://www.peterpaulrubens.org/biography.html
Wallace, Walter. (1968) “The Legend and the Man,” in The World of Rembrandt: 1606-1669. pp. 17-25.