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The young Rubens: three versions of "The Battle of the Amazons"

04.03.14 - 20.04.14

"The Battle of the Amazons" was probably painted before the young Rubens left for Italy in 1600. The painting is interesting for two reasons: it is one of Rubens's oldest known works and his earliest known collaboration with his colleague and good friend Jan I Brueghel.

There are several versions extant of this early work. How do these versions relate to one another and what is their status? What we do know is that it was standard studio practice to bring various versions of the same composition onto the market. The "invention" and development of a new artistic product was a time-consuming and intellectual challenge. So this investment had to generate a profit.

The first version is the most prestigious one. The work in Sanssouci in Potsdam is probably the original judging by its pictorial quality: it was entirely painted by Rubens and Brueghel. But what about the other two versions? We can be sure of one thing: all three of these canvases were created around the same time. But the key question is, who painted them and where? A group of Rubens experts is currently investigating this.

The examination of "The Battle of the Amazons" ties in with broader research conducted for the Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, the catalogue of Rubens's work, which is published by the Centrum Rubenianum. In 2015, the first volume on Rubens's mythological paintings is scheduled for publication.