Second approach to Rubens ‘Het Steen’,1636 and Pissarro’s ‘The Côtes Saint-Denis’ or ‘The Côtes des Boeufs’ 1877

Het Steen
The first element to catch my eye today is the central triangular form of the uprooted tree (Rubens himself uprooted?) if you keep this in your central field of vision, given the size of the work other shapes seem smeared against a wall of peripheralism, a curved space corresponding to the curve of the perceiving retina? This might account for the perceptual distortions. The hunter seems nearly twice as tall as the driver and passenger, the flowers to the right standing behind a small hillock (some sort of daisy) are huge, every bloom would be near enough the size of the coach drivers face. The ducks/ partridges behind are enormous, the size of sheep. The trees on the grown out hedge line, perhaps not the perfectly worked land one had first thought, are correspondingly smaller. There are more ducks to the right in another fallen tree and two in flight to the left of the birches. With cows in the field, an extravagantly tall dairy maid (I assume going to milk them, fowl in the air, no doubt fish in the stream and crops in the field, trade shown in the market journey, there is all that a man might need. Note also the three figures down by the house, staff or family?
5 x silver birches and 1 x oak (must compare to Ruisdael) growing within a low circular wall. Light golden, lowish in the sky, golden sun just above the horizon on the right. Unusual position of the sun. Could this be due to the intended position of the painting in the room in Het Steen, site specific work?
If the carter is off to market, then it must be early morning, sun rising in the East so we must be facing North East
By the way, this is a link to some images of the House now-ish http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/arch/rubens_arch.html
Cotes des Boeufs
One always forgets how bright this painting is, especially when compared to its reproductions or the thin brown glazes of the Rubens; the zinc white powers out from behind the tree trunks
 Languages of technology/ modernity
The central trunk appears to be an almost precise central axis, if you compare these to the two trunks next to it, are we looking at a sort of Fibonacci series, it might be possible, but unlikely, certainly before his involvement with Divisionism in 1885/6. Does the foreground blur in parts, a la Gerhard Richter? If photography dates from the 1820’s the focus/ haze/ distance indistinct visual fields we are used as part of photographic language are chronologically possible, but splendidly pointless in such works based on plein air principles.
It is noticeable how much more difficult it is to see this painting, the Impressionist rooms are far more crowded, the painting is portrait proportions so that one person, or rather a pair, everybody looks in couples it seems, can easily block the whole work. The Rubens is big enough to always see a part of it, unless there is a whole Japanese tour party in front.


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: