Defeat of Sennacherib by Rubens

Defeat of Sennacherib by Rubens
Defeat of Sennacherib by Rubens

This painting is the work of aPeter Paulus Rubenswho, despite his relative youth, has already reached a more than considerable degree of maturity. The canvas, which is now in theAlte Pinakothek in Munichin Germany, was made between 1614 and 1615, when the artist was about 37 years old. That is to say, that he has not yet reached the fullness of his creation and has not carried out his most famous works. But still he shows himself to us as one of the greatest artists of thebaroque painting


Rubens' Defeat of Sennacherib

Apparently the scene is one of absolute chaos, a great tumult without order. And all this to represent a battle of Antiquity, neither more nor less than the times of the Assyrians, who also artistically recounted this episode for us in their reliefs in the Palace of Sennacherib.

But after that initial disorder, when we analyze the composition, its studied structure is discovered. And everything starts from a diagonal that goes from the lower right corner to the upper left, that diagonal due to the light, the groups of figures and the central presence of that rampant horse, composed in a practically impossible contrapposto position.

The battle is arranged around the animal, which certainly presents us with a complicated composition and some of the most dynamic movements. The upper half of the fabric is quite dark, but between those dark cloudsblacks of storm a space of light opens in the center and angels come out of it.

While in the lower part the men accumulate, it is something much more earthly. Each group is located next to the banner that identifies them and each one of them marks a direction and a movement.

In the center for example there is a group of knights that seem to be heading towards the outside of the scene. Some go to the left, which takes them to a shaded area of ​​the canvas, while others go to the right, rather they run away hastily and we see it clearly as it is a part very well illuminated by the beam of light that comes from the upper zone of the angels.

The warlike and dramatic chaos presented to us by Rubens is actually a compositional marvel in which the study of color and temperature is key. It relates the gray and blue shadow tones with other parts of warmer and brighter colors where the reflections and the yellow and orange tones vibrate.

But in addition to color, there is an impressive compositional study, completely baroque, and yet very indebted to the painting of the Renaissance, more specifically of Leonardo and his works such as the battle of Anghiari. And it is that Rubens, despite the great differences in artistic concept and time, deeply admired da Vinci.

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