picture of drawing of painting by Rubens of the Massacre of the Innocents by Julius learning to draw and paint

Drawing of painting by Rubens of The Massacre of the Innocents, 2005, red crayon, 29 x 20 cm

I will be drawing this picture again. Rubens is fantastic. It is the thinking that I want to get at: how to think in order to compose a tortuous mass of bodies. I have seen some people start by sketching out the main forms and lines of a composition with just rough brush on canvass and allowing these to suggest figures and what they might be doing, e.g. the american artist Frank McCarthy, and apparently Leonardo used to stare at stains on walls, but Rubens is too mathematical for that. There's too much structure. My suspicion is that with his compositions he does not primarily think pictorially, i.e. in 2D but sculpturally in 3D and then converts the 3d vision into a 2D composition.

It is interesting in this respect to compare him with one of my favourite painters: Tintoretto, for instance Tintoretto's painting of this subject. Most obvious thing first. In Tintoretto's picture the figures are placed all around the extremities of the painting leaving the centre bare. I have read somewhere that he used first to model his figures in wax and then play with placing and lighting them. I think, if he did this then he did it after he'd got the main elements of the compositon and some of the figures sorted out. His thought processes are different to Rubens'. In my view Tintoretto thinks in terms of a two dimensional pattern which he then transforms into a contorted three dimensional space. When you're looking at a Rubens, you're looking at a sculpture. When looking at a Tintoretto you're inside a maze. Rubens' composition makes the eye travel over the forms and the space is incidental. Tintoretto makes you eye travel between spaces and the forms within them are incidental.

I found an interesting thing when trawling the internet - the Rubens massacre bought by the National Gallery has a near twin if the pictures which appear on the internet are to be believed.

Detail: man smashing baby against collumn

Detail: man smashing baby against collumn

Detail: man stabbing woman

Detail: man stabbing woman

Detail actual size: woman protecting child

Detail actual size: woman protecting child

Value of original: 120.00.
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Page last modified: 18:36 Monday 13th. May 2013

Julius Guzy

Paintings & Drawings

  • link to painting of the Cities of Babel destroying our Garden of Eden

2005 Copies from Rubens

  • Link to drawing made from painting by Rubens of the four continents
  • painting after Leonardo Da Vinci's Battle of Anghiari
  • Link to drawing made from painting by Rubens of Venus in Front of Her Mirror
  • Link to drawing made from painting by Rubens of the Feast of Venus
  • Link to drawing made from painting by Rubens of the Massacre of the Innocents
  • Link to drawing of mourners from painting by Rubens of the Assumption of the Virgin
  • Link to make poverty history drawing of dancers and musicians on derry's walls -