In Italy, Rubens had admired Titian. In the north, he sees the increasingly risqué themes by Goltzius and Wtewael. Taboos fall : Bible and mythology offer erotic stories through moral excuses.
On July 7 in London, Christie's sells as lot 12 Lot and his daughters, oil on canvas 190 x 225 cm painted by Rubens circa 1614. This painting is a rediscovery : it had not been seen since a failed attempt of sale in 1904 and 1905 and its re-inspection pushes it among the masterpieces of the artist.
Rubens offers here a three character scene of high psychological complexity. In 1608, François de Sales judged that the story of Lot was not an incest but a forgivable sin. Lot is a nice old drunkard, like Noah.
In his great compositions from this phase of his career, Rubens wisely mixes nude and clothing. Although the bare flesh is the main target of the work, such a mingled attire brings presence and actuality to his antique theme. Samson and Delilah, the Massacre of the Innocents and the Drunken Silenus are other famous examples.
The abundant flesh is processed in an impasto that allows subtle variations of light and texture and promotes the sensual effect despite the advanced age of the man. Lot and his daughters remained in excellent condition in which only an aging varnish may be slightly blamed.
The artist had carefully read the Genesis : the two women were not made pregnant in the same day and only one is naked, ready but also worrying for the act. Her sister is closer to the father, with the charming smile of a woman who is achieving her conspiracy. The attitude and indeed the splendidly haggard gaze of the man express his full intoxication that encourages the nude girl to pour the wine once again. The Silenus will reuse similar characters in 1616.
SOLD for £ 45M including premium
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