Book Series The Body in Art, vol. 3

Rubens and the Human Body

Cordula van Wyhe (ed)

  • Pages: 366 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:3 b/w, 166 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2018

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57775-3
  • Paperback
  • Available

This book is the first comprehensive investigation of the most paradigmatic aspect of Baroque visual culture: the Rubensian nude.


“(...) it was Rubens, more than any other artist of the early modern era, with the possible exception of Michelangelo, who used the human body to speak of some of the most complex and wide-ranging ideas about the boundaries between the corporeal and the spiritual. Male or female, young or old, sensual, or stoically firm under the extremes of passion, the human body was his most copious signifier and key figure of his visual rhetoric.” (Aneta Georgievska-Shine, in Historians of Netherlandish Art Reviews, August 2018)


Did contemporary audiences recognise the sensuously painted ‘Rubensian body’ as a particular, if not peculiar, artistic repertoire? How can we best understand seventeenth-century practises of reading and viewing the Rubensian body? Can our criteria for eroticism be linked with that of Rubens? Was the body a ‘fluid’ category for Rubens and where does the boundary of the human body lie? It is hoped that these investigative questions will lead to a detailed evaluation about the paradigmatic status of the Rubensian body and whether we are justified in stressing its singularity within seventeenth-century Flemish and the broader early modern European visual culture.


Cordula van Wyhe — Introduction. Getting under the Skin of the Imaged Body

Andreas Thielemann — Stone to Flesh: Rubens’s Treatise De imitatione statuarum

Jørgen Wadum and Anne Haack Christensen — Painting human flesh: Theory compared to Jacob Jordaens’ practice
Joost Vander Auwera — Size Matters! On the importance and significance of life-size figures in Rubens’ paintings
Suzanne J. Walker — Rubens’s Victims. Images of the Assaulted Male Body
Margit Thøfner — Nursing Paint: On Rubens, Facture and Breast Milk
Karolien de Clippel — Vibrant Veils and Daring Draperies. On Rubens’ clothing of nymphs and goddesses
Jacques Bos — Rubens and early modern psychology
Lucy Davis — ‘On feet made unsteady by age and wine’: Rubens’ Silenus and Human Aging
Katerina Georgoulia — Rubens and Early Modern Dietary Science
Elizabeth McGrath — Black Bodies and Dionysiac Revels: Rubens’ Bacchic  Ethiopians.
Irene Schaudies — ‘Boistrous druncken headed imaginary gods’: Bacchic bodies of Rubens and Jordaens

Joanna Wooddall — Afterword