"As might be expected in a show that covers art from the late Middle Ages to the early 20th century, the styles and purposes of the drawings are all over the place. There are Leonardo's scribbled studies of Mary Magdalene, Pieter Breugel the Elder's detailed line drawing of a peasant scene that would be used to make a print, and a watercolor by Cezanne meant as a finished piece.... Exceptionally high quality is the glue that holds the show together. So this is an exhibit that presents art as pretty much ahistorical and at its most fundamental -- pure visual pleasure, of which there is plenty."
Sheldon Tapley takes a close look at the painting Samson and Delilah by Peter Paul Rubens in the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Tapley writes that "Rubens created flesh masterfully, so that it seems supple or firm, ruddy or pale, wrinkled or smooth, as he needed. Where it is illuminated, it has substance, in contrast to the translucent browns that make the shadows. The flesh in light would have been the third and final layer of paint, applied most slowly, blended with soft brushes, to build up the illusion of sculptural form."
Duggan writes: "... what I found most enlightening were the small wonders the team of specialists offered... Cimabue’s 'Ytalia' provides a bird’s eye view of Rome from the 13th century... Cimabue painted 'a political manifesto' showing how the empire of the Caesars now belonged to that of the Popes. It's amazing that such a small detail could say so much, but almost more amazing how easily it could be overlooked without such a resource as this book."
Huntley Dent reconsiders Peter Paul Rubens' works in London. Dent notes "it's startling to consider that when he was around thirty, Rubens could have come to London to see the first performances of Hamlet and King Lear. His style seems at least a century ahead. So prolific was he that London abounds in Rubens, major and minor. The works were well worth pausing over this summer, when the big museums seemed empty of important, intriguing shows."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.