Rus Articles Journal

Roman portraits. What Rubens told about?

Italy, Genoa. By the beginning of the 16th century in Genoa clans of aristocrats, big families - “alberg“ were formed. There were 28 such families. From them the richest (and considerable) Spinola, Doria, Pallavichino, Grimaldi. There passed 100 years. They extended the influence and on Rome where there was already a family of Pamphylia.

1608. Rubens in Rome according to the order of the employer of the duke of Mantua. He carries out orders for churches and paints portrait of the nobility. Once these portraits decorated halls of the Roman palaces, today they are scattered on all museums of the world and on private collections.

Rubens. Marchioness Veronika Spinola Doria. Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Germany.
Rubens. Giovanni Carlo Doria. Galleria Nazional della Liguria, Genoa (265ő188 cm).

Rubens. The marchioness Brigida Spinola - Doria. National gallery of arts, Washington, USA (152ő99 cm).
On this portrait - the marquis Ambrozio Spinola who in 1603 was at war in the Netherlands on side of Spain besieged Ostende and put 35 thousand people there.

Rubens. Marquis Ambrozio Spinola. National Gallery, Prague (117ő85 cm).
Maria Serra Pallavichino is as like as two peas similar to Veronika Spinola Doria (twins?).

Rubens. Maria Sella Pallavichino. National Trust, Great Britain (233ő145 cm).
On this portrait - the marchioness Maria Grimaldi and her husband. The marchioness is very similar to Veronika and to Maria Sella Pallavichini (sisters?) .

Rubens. Marchioness Maria Grimaldi and her husband. National Trust, Great Britain (242kh140sm).

Attempt to understand related communications of these persons of a masculine and feminine gender does not lead to anything - data, available to a review, are too poor and contradictory. It is a pity though it adds nothing to the art value of works.

Some strangeness of female portraits attracts attention. They are written as if “under a carbon paper“: identical (or almost identical) poses, situation, clothes. With what it was connected - with a lack of time or with the customer`s whim? Most likely, with the last: families are equal according to the status, and nobody has to leave a row.

It is probable that all of them were written in one place, in one workshop. Sizes of portraits different. Probably, it is connected with space of rooms in which they had to be hung out.

In details quality of reproductions does not allow to consider all pictures. Only on one it was succeeded to select fragments. It is about Brigida Spinol Doria`s portrait.

It is one of the brightest portraits of a brush of Rubens. The cloth size - meter on one and a half, almost full-scale. The beauty with a wasp waist against decorative columns. First of all “the mill millstone“ is evident magnificent shity a gold dress (the truth, without pearls and diamonds) with a huge collar.

The look moves from a dress to the head and back, as if seeking to catch something imperceptible. Under the influence of game of color spots the viewer eventually is more impressed from a dress. And all charm of a portrait - in a head of the Genoa beauty.

Reddish hair. Half-smile of chubby lips. Eyes. It seems, it is possible to look in this face infinitely. They bewitch, attract, tease, involve. It is possible to imagine twenty-nine-year-old Rubens`s feelings during sessions with twenty-two-year model!

A little unnaturally cheeks look - painfully they are rouged. And if to look narrowly - that and ears too red. It suggests an idea that speeches of the artist during sessions forced the beauty to redden as poppies color.

What it is possible to gather from these cloths? First of all, we see the stereotype of writing of portraits which developed at that time. Further - clothes. Afterwards - jewelry. By the way, in these pictures of jewelry it is almost not visible (twenty years later ceremonial portraits will shine in all flowers of a rainbow which are poured in jewels). And it - I emphasize - in spite of the fact that all these people from the richest families.

They (these families) left behind magnificent palaces and collections of works of art in the different areas of Italy, first of all - in Rome and in Genoa (Rubens sketched these facades, and then published the drawings in the book about palaces of Genoa). Them outstanding architects built several centuries (in Doria`s palace - Pamphylia in Rome of 1000 rooms), artists painted, sculptors decorated. Several centuries owners of palaces collected objects of art. Unimaginable quantity of exhibits! It is what reached up to now. And how many it is stolen, died, burned down, it is taken out to other countries!

The palace in Rome, the palace in Genoa... In the same palace there is a mirror gallery which cannot be shown in all magnificence from - for poor quality of photos, but which it is necessary to mention. Frescos, stucco molding, mirrors, antique statues. The gallery was constructed in 1731-1769.

In showrooms of these palaces it is possible to see Velasquez, Raphael, Jan Bruegel, Titian`s cloths.

1000 rooms! It is clear, that in such rooms there lived not only members of families, but also protection, and the servants. For certain there were secluded corners where it was possible to retire without fear to catch sight to somebody curious.

And again there is this question: why at Brigida cheeks and ears reddened? Perhaps, Rubens suggested it to meet in some secret recess? To us never to learn it. And only the genuine feeling with which the beauty is written, hints at existence of a certain secret between the artist and the marchioness.