Getty Exhibit Explores Rubens-Brueghel Bond

Pan Syrinx i i

Pan and Syrinx, about 1617, oil on panel, by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens. Staatliche Museen Kassel Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister hide caption

itoggle caption Staatliche Museen Kassel Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister
Pan Syrinx

Pan and Syrinx, about 1617, oil on panel, by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens.

Staatliche Museen Kassel Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister

Painting Studies

See more paintings and the Getty's technical studies.

The Head of Medusa i i

The Head of Medusa, about 1617-18, oil on panel, by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Gemaldegalerie, Vienna hide caption

itoggle caption Kunsthistorisches Museum, Gemaldegalerie, Vienna
The Head of Medusa

The Head of Medusa, about 1617-18, oil on panel, by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens.

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Gemaldegalerie, Vienna
The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man i i

The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man, about 1617, oil on panel, by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague hide caption

itoggle caption Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man

The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man, about 1617, oil on panel, by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens.

Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

A new exhibition at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles explores the close partnership between two great 17th-century painters, Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder. X-ray and infrared studies of the paintings have allowed curators to travel back in time and see the division of labor on the collaborations.

Many art historians believe that Rubens played a dominant role in his relationship with Brueghel. But Anne Woollett, an associate curator at the Getty, says the latest scientific studies reveal that the painters' partnership was more creative than that.

An X-ray of the painting Mars Disarmed by Venus, for example, confirms that Rubens had painted over some of Brueghel's completed work. Brueghel used lead-based white paint for his finishing highlights, a type of paint that is easily picked up by an X-ray.

Woollett says the studies answer a lot of questions about how Rubens and Brueghel worked together.

"It turns on its head the notion that Rubens was the one who directed most of his partnerships," Woollett says. "His partnership with Brueghel was a partnership of equals. They had a very reciprocal, sensitive relationship where they responded to one another's contributions."

The exhibition continues at the Getty until Sept. 24 before traveling to the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague.

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